Church Helps Fire Victims Re-Build

11:56 PM, Feb 20, 2011   |    comments
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Guilford County, NC -- Many families are suffering because of recent fires, including the Dunham family of Whitsett.

"It's pretty overwhelming," said Steve Pearsall, who goes to church with the Dunham's at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greensboro. "Because the money is not there to re-build the house. So they don't know what they're going to do yet."

"In my 30 years of experience, this is the worst I've seen, that looks like it came from an outside fire, that totally destroyed a house like this," said Chief Larry Moser of the Mt. Hope Fire Department.

The flames were so big, fire fighters from Mt. Hope had to evacuate within ten minutes.

SLIDESHOW: Images of fire crews battling house fire

"Fire was coming up and the wind was blowing the fire up and over the back of the house," said Moser. "Just totally engulfing everything."

A pile of cinder blocks and charred wooden beams are what's left of the home Breeze and Derek Dunham shared with their three kids and 10 pets.

"They lost all of their stuff, their possessions," said Pearsall. "But, what they really are heartbroken about is the animals."

'Bo,' an Australian Shepherd, is the only surviving dog. He's staying with Pearsall until the Dunham's get back on their feet. UUCG is rallying behind the family.

"There have been people left and right volunteering furniture, household goods, clothes, money, whatever they can do to help," said Pearsall.

For the family of five, who are happy to be alive and together, this added family support means everything.

"The father, Derek, is just really beside himself," said Pearsall. "He feels really responsible. Everybody else has come to terms with it. It was an accident. They can't change it now."

Chief Moser believes the fire came from a burn barrel in the backyard. He also said there is a lesson to be learned considering the conditions the Triad is seeing right now.

"The wind blowing as hard as it was yesterday, just a couple of embers get out, the grass is really dry," said Moser. "So once it gets into that, it just spreads really, really fast."

Spreading as fast as the support for this family in need.

"They've gotta figure out how they're going to take care of themselves next," said Pearsall. "That's what they're doing."

How You Can Help

There are ways you can help the Dunham family. UUCG has set up a Facebook page and PayPal account. Go to OMG! My House Burned Down! The name of the page came from the Dunham's ten year old son, Avery, who said that's how he was feeling right now. The page also includes the kids' clothing sizes, if you have clothing you would like to donate.

The American Red Cross is normally the first to come to the aid of families in crisis. They never say "no," so any time they go out it creates a strain on their budget. But, you can help them help your neighbors with a financial contribution.

The number 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) Or you can donate on their website www.redcross.org. Here's the key, attach to your donation "local fires and your county" and that money will get to the Red Cross chapter that would help you.

WFMY News 2

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