THREE MILE BAY — Instead of going to work, Heather Callahan was watching her cousin’s house burn down and telling them all they own now is what they ran out with.
A family living in a home on Route 12E in the village lost all their possessions after the home they were renting burned down in a fire early Wednesday morning. Derick and Kristen Parker, with their two daughters, Karyssa, 17, and Dallas, 16, are now living in a bunkhouse that does not have a kitchen or a bathroom after their house burned down.
“It’s all gone,” said Ms. Callahan, Mr. Parker’s cousin. “It’s not like they’re going to get an insurance check to cover their losses.”
The silver lining is that more than $1,000 was raised for the family in the hours after the fire — not to mention the various donations that came in.
Ms. Callahan said she was just about to get out of bed to get ready for work at Samaritan Medical Center, where she is a registered nurse, when Mrs. Parker called her at about 4:15 a.m.
“She was hysterical and told me the house was on fire,” Ms. Callahan said.
Ms. Callahan said she lives about a block away, so she got there in about five minutes — just as firefighters were arriving. She said it appears Mr. Parker got up at about 4 a.m., smelled smoke and saw flames in the kitchen. He then got his family and dogs out of the house as his wife dialed 911.
The whole back half of their house was engulfed in flames, and the house would remain on fire for nearly six hours after that. It was an older home with plank boards as the interior, which will trap flames inside the walls, ceilings and attic.
As the hours went by, all the family could do was watch, field calls from family and answer questions from a fire investigator.
“You’re helpless and hopeless,” Mrs. Callahan said. “At that point, you’re looking for any glimmer of hope. Can anything be saved? Why can’t I do something to help? You want to be doing something but you don’t know what you can be doing. And you don’t want to be doing anything because you’re so upset by the situation. So I think you get yourself into this kind of mental whirlwind of uncertainty.”
The family had been living there for three years. It was their daughters’ safe place that they never wandered too far from. Their kids are athletes and kept all their trophies, jerseys and shirts from competition inside. Now it is all destroyed.
The house would end up being demolished, and their living situation is a family member’s cottage that has no kitchen or bathroom.
“It’s a place to sleep,” Mrs. Callahan said. “The Red Cross is now considering them homeless.”
The Parker family has been in touch with the American Red Cross and many clothes donations have come in already. A fundraiser has been set up, which can be found at http://wdt.me/Parkers.
Still, as they lost everything, there is still a strong support system around them.
“We’re all strong,” Mrs. Callahan said. “They can be weak right now because their family is here for strength and support. Fall apart, be a mess and we’re here to pick up the pieces.”