Harrigills lose house, dogs to early morning fire

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 10, 2011

NATCHEZ — Tyler Harrigill was never the type to think the world was a dark place, but his recent tragedy has taught him people’s capacity to care stretches further than he realized.

Tyler, 23, and his wife Emily Felter Harrigill, 25, narrowly escaped their burning house at 70 Linden Drive early Monday morning.

The couple lost all of their possessions other than wall decorations made of iron. But what they will miss the most is their two dogs, they said.

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Lucy, a pit bull, and Willie, a Chihuahua were killed in the fire.

“I’m upset about my home, but I’m so upset about my babies,” Emily said, referring to Lucy and Willie.

Natchez fire marshal Aaron Wesley said the state fire marshal arrived Wednesday to investigate what caused the fire.

The cause is undetermined, officially, but Wesley said it is possible that lighting caused it.

Wesley said he received reports that radar showed lightning in the Natchez area at approximately 2 a.m., 38 minutes before the 911-call was made.

A broken tree limb charred with burnt residue was laid on top of the roof of the home.

Emily and Tyler surveyed the damage of their home Wednesday and the site made them say aloud that God saved both of their lives.

Emily said the couple happened to stay up late talking that night until just before 2 a.m.

“I kept him (awake) talking to him, you know how girls are,” she said.

Emily said she does not think she was asleep long when a strong taste in her mouth similar to menthol woke her up. She woke up Tyler when she realized the house was on fire. He told her to stay on the ground near the window. Tyler said once in the hallway, he was unable to see because of the smoke but eventually crawled to the front porch.

“It felt like (the fire) was sandblasting my body with coal,” he said.

Then he went to the bedroom window, “busted it out,” and pulled out his wife who was waiting by the window.

Tyler said he was disoriented at the time but later learned he removed part of the window frame to get to Emily.

“You did save my life, Tyler,” Emily told him while standing in their charred bedroom.

Tyler then broke the window where the dogs sleep, but the oxygen from outside fed the flames, making it impossible to get to them, he said. Tyler and Emily were hospitalized. Tyler said he had to stay at the hospital until 3 p.m. because he initially coughed up solid black tar and later coughed up ash.

Emily said it has been difficult to stop crying about the loss of her pets, but she is thankful she and Tyler are alive today.

“God pulled us out of there,” Tyler said.

Tyler said the support he and Emily have been shown in the past two-and-a-half days has enlightened him about how generous people can be.

“It makes you realize how many people care in the world, it’s more than you think,” he said.

Those who would like to reach the Harrigills can reach Tyler at 601-660-0899. Monetary donations can be mailed to Emily’s parents, Ellis and Sherry Felter at 83 Mississippi Ave.