Fire strikes family twice

Published 12:47 am Thursday, August 13, 2009

NATCHEZ — Amy Hall is a woman plagued by fire.

In less than one year two house fires have left Hall and her family with no place to call home.

For Hall hand her family the sight of their burning house on North Rankin Street Wednesday was all too familiar.

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Hall, her husband, and their three children moved to the North Rankin Street residence after a fire destroyed their Jefferson County residence in February.

“I can’t believe this could happen again,” Hall said through her sobs. “We were just getting back on our feet. We were just starting to get back all the stuff we lost, and now we have to start over. I can’t believe this is happening.”

As the Natchez Fire Department extinguished flames at the back of the residence, Hall’s neighbors looked after her 1, 2 and 3-year-olds and another neighbor brought over a bag full of children’s clothes.

The Beulah Baptist Church on B Street, just steps away from the North Rankin Street residence, donated the house to Hall and her family.

Pastor Carl Smith said while the house was in need of repairs, the church allowed Hall and her family to live there because they had no place else to go.

“They were homeless and we wanted to help them,” Smith said.

Hall said while no one was home when the fire started, the day before the fire she heard sparking sounds and could smell a burning odor in the house.

An electrician was scheduled to inspect the house on Wednesday to investigate the burning smell, Hall said.

A Red Cross representative was at the scene of the fire and said the group will provide the family with temporary housing and clothes.

Natchez Fire Department Battalion Chief Aaron Wesley said Hall’s situation, while unfortunate, can serve as a lesson for others.

“If you smell smoke in your house or business, call the fire department immediately,” Wesley said. “That can make all the difference in the world.”

Wesley said after an inspection of the house he believes the fire started at an electrical outlet in the kitchen near the area where Hall reported smelling the burning odor and hearing the crackling sounds.

“Something like that can smolder for a long time before it catches on fire,” Wesley said. “When that happens it’s too late.”

Wesley said had the fire department been called when Hall first smelled the burning odor they would have used a thermal camera, which can detect heat within walls, to find the faulty electrical wire.

While the house was not destroyed in the fire, the back wall of the house was burned and smoke and water damage ruined the rest of the structure.

Those who want to make a donation to the Hall family should contact the Red Cross at 601-442-3656.