UPDATE: Firefighters still fighting flames at historic Hope Farm; one injured after caught under collapsed roof

Published 9:13 pm Friday, March 24, 2023

NATCHEZ — First responders and firefighters are still at the scene of Hope Farm, where the historic home believed to be one of the oldest in the region still flickers with small flames.

Like manna from heaven, a bit of rain fell to help them fight the worst of the blaze that destroyed most of the house and collapsed part of the roof Friday evening.

A Natchez firefighter had been caught in the wreckage of the collapsed roof, Natchez Police Chief Cal Green said. Natchez Fire Chief Robert Arrington was busy Friday evening, seeing that his firefighter was all right. He didn’t appear to be badly hurt, Green said. The firefighter left in an ambulance.

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“They’re checking him out for injuries,” she said.

Smoke loomed in the air for miles around the house at 147 Homochitto St.

The homeowner Ethel Banta, 89, was in the home at the time the blaze broke out and did not make it out alive.

“They will probably be out here for the better part of the night,” Green said of the firefighters.

They were called to the fire at approximately 5 p.m. Three hours later, after the rain, flames appeared to be still flickering up inside the rafters, she said.

Most of the damage is in the rear of the home, but wind pushed the fire to the front house too.

“It’ll be after they’ve got everything safe that they will be able to determine if it’s a total loss, but it is looking pretty bad at this point,” Green said.

The house was built by Carlos de Grand Pre’ from 1780 to 1792 and is known for merging both Spanish and English styles.

In 1926, it became the home of Katherine Grafton Miller and her husband, J. Balfour Miller, in the 1920s. Katherine Miller helped found the Natchez Pilgrimage and was instrumental in promoting Natchez as a tourist destination. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

We will continue to update this story as information is available.