By RACHEL C. DOVE
BELO - An afternoon fire that is thought to have started in the laundry room of a single-wide trailer located on Justice Drive at Belo, near U.S. 119, left a woman, who escaped with nothing but her two pets and the clothing on her back, homeless.
Shortly after 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Mingo County 911 received reports of a structure fire on Justice Drive and quickly dispatched the Delbarton Volunteer Fire Department to the scene. Attempts to save the mobile home were not successful, as it was completely destroyed.
“Mobile homes are extremely hard to save, especially ones that are older models,” said Delbarton Assistant Fire Chief Timmy White. “It was completely engulfed when we got here. There wasn’t time to try to save any of the possessions inside. The fire had raced throughout the structure destroying everything in its path.”
Helen Spurlock, the sole occupant of the destroyed rental property owned by Stuart Justice, Jr., told the Daily News she had lived in this same location for the past 8 years. The victim said she and her son, Mark Ward, who had come for a visit, were walking her dog when he looked up and saw smoke coming from the trailer.
“He ran in through the smoke and was able to get my cat out, but there wasn’t time to save anything else,” said Spurlock.
“I’ve lost everything I own. I have no idea where I’m going to live or what I’m going to do now.
“I didn’t have a lot, but everything I had meant something to me,” said Spurlock. “Now there’s nothing left.”
As Spurlock and her son sat on the tailgate of his truck on a small incline adjacent from the burning structure, one could see the look of devastation and helplessness on her tear stained face. Neighbors who lived in close proximity to the destroyed residence were attempting to reach a family member to come get the fire victim and her pets, and said that she was a wonderful lady who always kept a close eye on happenings in their community and was always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone that needed it.
“I’m hoping that her landlord will move another mobile home in here for her after what’s left of this one is cleared out,” said one neighbor. “We would really hate to lose Helen and I know she would be more content living here again than somewhere else.”
Bystanders said the property owner had been notified, and that he had expressed his relief that no lives were lost in the fire.
White said that he would contact the local chapter of the American Red Cross to try to obtain emergency housing and needed supplies for the victim.
If anyone is interested in donating clothing or household items to Spurlock, contact her brother, Ance Gilman, at 304-475-2202 for information regarding clothing and shoe sizes, and to find the drop-off location being used for the donations.
The Delbarton Volunteer Fire Department responded to the blaze with one tanker truck and six firefighters. STAT Ambulance was also on scene, although treatment of the victim was found to not be necessary.