Dora Conner looks through the remains of her burned home on Sedgefield Road Thursday. The home was destroyed in a June 29 fire. (Thomas Graning/The Natchez Democrat)
Dora Conner looks through the remains of her burned home on Sedgefield Road Thursday. The home was destroyed in a June 29 fire. (Thomas Graning/The Natchez Democrat)

Rising from the ashes

Published 12:12am Friday, July 18, 2014

By Thomas Graning

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Dora Conner has one word to sum up how she and her husband made it out of June 29 house fire — God.

“If it weren’t for the grace of God, we wouldn’t be here,” Conner said. “We know God doesn’t do anything without reimbursing you for your losses.”

After surviving the fire in their home of 10 years, the Conners are now turning to the community for help.

“We’re trying to reach out to the community to help with anything they can do,” Conner said.

She and her husband, Marshall, have been living with her daughter since the fire that destroyed everything in the Sedgefield Road house.

While many antique items and family treasures were destroyed in the blaze, the Conners were able to save some items.

“I had lots of glasses and stuff in china cabinets and stuff, and I got lots of that out of there,” Dora said.

So far, she said, the community’s outpouring of support has been “wonderful.”

“I get overwhelmed with calls and stuff,” Dora said. “Churches and people that have found out that we got burned out and lost everything are offering anything and whatever they can, be it clothing or furniture.”

The house, which was a total loss, was uninsured because of its age. According to Dora, it was a wooden-frame home built 75 to 80 years ago.

The fire is thought to have started from an electrical issue with an air conditioning unit in the rear of the house.

Marshall was the first to notice the fire, after being woken up in the middle of the night.

“I’m very, very skittish,” Marshall said. “Something hit me in the side.

“I jumped up and looked towards the wall portion, and the fire was close to me. I couldn’t see the wall any more.”

Dora, however, believes the “something” her husband felt was an act of God.

“We know that it was God that touched him and woke him up,” she said. “It was by the grace of God he didn’t pass out from the smoke.”

Dora said she heard her husband make a noise, and yelled out to him to see if he was OK.

“I said, ‘What’s wrong now?’ and he said, ‘Dora Ann, this house is on fire,’” Dora said.

Dora ran to the room, and helped her husband out of the house. He suffered superficial burns to his side and head and minor smoke inhalation.

A few weeks before the fire, Dora said, she had a thought in her mind of what would happen in a fire.

“The thought came to my mind ‘Lord, how would we get out of this house if it caught fire?” Dora said. “And God showed us how we were going to get out of it. We got out with our lives.

“It was all God.”

Dora said the plan is to eventually rebuild on the same property.

“I want to rebuild right back on my little spot,” she said. “I own that spot.”

The family has set up a fund at United Mississippi Bank, and a website donation at www.gofundme.com/conner-family-home.

The family is also in the works of creating a home registry at Home Depot.

Overall, Dora is just glad she and her husband are still safe.

“We’re thankful that by the grace of God we are still here,” Dora said. “We still have our health and strength.”