UPDATE: House Fire Leaves Family Homeless

By: Jeremy Edwards, Jennifer Rizzi Email
By: Jeremy Edwards, Jennifer Rizzi Email

UPDATE 12/24/13 @ 6:15 p.m.
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- It's not the Christmas Eve that Richard DeWeese and his family expected.

"You can lose everything you have in just the blink of an eye," he said.

Instead of feasting and talking, he looked at what's left of the home on Abney Street where he grew up -- which isn't much.

Although he didn't live in the house anymore, his sister, Donna Collins, still did -- with her three young grandchildren.

All four were home Tuesday morning when fire suddenly ripped through it.

DeWeese says the children -- boys ages 14, 12, and 9 -- woke up to smoke and then rushed to wake their grandmother.

"She had already gone to bed, so they just pounded and woke her up, and said 'the house on fire,'" he said.

Brother-in-law Cookie Smith says they had to escape through the back door because the front porch was overtaken by flames.

"She came out with no shoes, no coat, nothing," he said. "She was just in her pajamas."

That's when Smith says a holiday angel came to Donna's rescue.

"Somebody in the neighborhood gave her a coat and a pair of shoes," he said. "She doesn't know who, but somebody out there helped her."

Firefighters say no smoke detectors were inside the home. Flames were shooting out from it when they arrived.

Some were even strong enough to touch neighboring homes.

"It really bothers you," Smith said. "Donna's worked hard all her life and she doesn't have a whole lot."

Family members tell WSAZ.com they're grateful that no lives were lost and no one was hurt.

But they're mourning the Christmas memories that were claimed by the fire.

"They just got their Christmas presents put under the tree last night," DeWeese said. "Now, there's nothing left."

UPDATE 12/24/13 @ 2:30 p.m.
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A family has lost everything after a fire in St. Albans.

It broke out about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday on Abney Street.

Donna Collins lives in the home. Her family members tell WSAZ.com her three grandchildren woke her up when they saw smoke.

They tried to get out of the house through the front door but flames had already overtaken the front porch.

Collins told family members they were all able to make it out of the house through the back door.

All of the family's Christmas presents were also destroyed in the fire.

We spoke with investigators, they tell WSAZ.com they are still trying to figure out what caused the fire and where it began.

ORIGINAL STORY 12/24/13 @ 1:30 a.m.
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An early morning fire has left a family of five homeless.

It happened in the 400 block of Abney St. in St. Albans about 1:30 Tuesday morning. Firefighters say there were no smoke detectors in the home, but one person inside was awake when the fire started. That person was able to wake up the other four and get them out safely.

Firefighters tell WSAZ.com flames were shooting from the front of the house when they arrived. There were no injuries.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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