Hawkins County

Couple loses everything they own in apartment fire

Apartment Fire 9-5-12

CHURCH HILL, Tenn. - A family loses everything they own after a fire destroys their entire home.

The fire sparked when they were both inside their apartment in Church Hill, Tennessee.

Ashes and debris are all that's left of Larry and Gwendolyn Earley's home. The couple told News 5 the fire that engulfed their apartment began as an accident while cooking dinner Saturday night.

"Oil on the [stove] caught on fire, and it didn't take no time for it to go up in flames," said Larry Earley.

The two made it out safely, but they say that's about all that escaped the flames.

The Earleys told us they lost all of their belongings, including their dog J.B. "My daughter took him to someplace, and they were going to cremate him," said Gwendolyn.

But we learned it was a Bible belonging to Gwendolyn's late father that brings both heartache and encouragement. "It was lying on the coffee table, it burnt up. I think of things he used to tell us growing up, 'Don't worship cardinal things. It's not worth it,'" Gwendolyn said as she choked away tears.

It's a life lesson the Earleys are learning the hard way, but step by step they're getting help from family and friends providing them with necessities, a new dog, and a helping hand. "My daughter and her friend are pulling us by the hand all the way through," said Gwendolyn.

They're hoping even one day to pay it forward. "I've never gone through this, and I hope that the next time I know something like this happens, I can help," Gwedolyn added.

We learned four families were displaced as a result of this fire, and the American Red Cross as well as the apartment owners are working to get everyone a permanent place to live.

If you'd like to donate to help fire victims like the Earleys, you can call the Kingsport chapter of the American Red Cross at (423) 378-8700.

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