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Fund started for house fire victims


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The Piankatank Shores home of Justin and Elizabeth Jessie was destroyed on October 22. The cause of the blaze is suspected to be electrical. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)

by Tom Chillemi and
Larry S. Chowning

A fire that destroyed a home on Poplar Drive in Piankatank Shores in Hartfield on October 22 may have been caused by an electric space heater or an electrical problem near the front door, said Alan Blake, chief of the Hartfield Volunteer Fire Department.

Justin and Elizabeth Jessie and their 3-month-old twin girls, Courtney and Carly, lost their home and nearly everything they owned in the fire, said Rhonda Green of Lower United Methodist Church, which has started a relief effort to help the Jessie family.

“People have been so generous and we want to thank everyone for all they have done and are doing, but there is still a tremendous need here,” said Green. “Justin and Elizabeth lost everything in the fire and we are trying to help. No one was injured in the fire and we feel very blessed.”

Donations can be made by making checks payable to Lower United Methodist Church with Jessie Family written on the check. The mailing address is Lower United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 98, Hartfield, VA 23071.

Smoldering fire
Blake said Mrs. Jessie told him she had problems with a couple of light bulbs blowing near the front door before she left the home that night. There also was a space heater in that area, and she thought she had turned it off, said Blake. “Something happened around the front door,” he said.

Blake said he believes the fire smoldered a while before anyone saw it.

No one was home at the time of the fire, said Blake. The Jessies’ two dogs were in the house, but they were let out by the mother of Justin Jessie before the fire exploded into flames. “Somehow the fire got air and just took off,” said Blake.

Fire was blowing from the front door by the time firefighters arrived at 7:30 p.m.

Blake said it took 4,500 gallons of water to extinguish the fire. Firefighters remained on the scene until about 10 p.m. checking for hot spots, said Blake.

Members of Lower Mid-dlesex Volunteer Fire Department responded, as did the Middlesex County Volunteer Rescue Squad.

posted 10.29.2008

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