Fire Captain who lost everything 'humbled' by support
Captain Kenneth Hendley, Ocilla Fire and Rescue Department
OCILLA, GA (WALB) -
Donations are pouring in to help the family of an Ocilla firefighter whose home burned twice in one day.
The first fire Tuesday afternoon heavily damaged the home and destroyed many of the family's belongings.
Crews put out the fire, but it flared up later that night, and there was nothing left to save.
Captain Kenneth Hendley and his family lost everything they owned. He was shocked about the fire, but he's thankful no one was hurt.
Two days after the fire, you could still see smoke coming from the house on Hwy 32 east in Irwin County. Ocilla Fire Rescue Captain Kenneth Hendley was working a wreck Tuesday afternoon when he answered a called to a familiar place.
"In the process when was packing up and coming to this fire did they actually say the address and I realized it was my house," said Captain Hendley.
Hendley arrived on the scene and jumped in to help other firefighters contain the blaze.
"I reckon my firefighter skills just kicked in," said Hendley. "You felt bad cause it was your own house, but you just have to treat it like any other house."
Firefighters say they thought the fire was out, but hours later in the middle of the night, a hidden hotspot ignited and destroyed the family's remaining belongings.
"It actually flared back up and they had to come back and put it out again," said Hendley.
8 people lived in the home. They all got out safely. Hendley says the fire was caused by grease left on the stove.
"One of my daughters, she was actually cooking, and she thought the eye was cut off," said Hendley. "By the time it was realized the kitchen was involved."
Donations for Hendley and his family have poured in. They say they're humbled that so many people from the community have offered to help.
"We got people just donating toys for Christmas- some for our kids and grandkids. Right now that's our biggest worry cause all our Christmas was gone too," said Hendley.
Hendley says he learned and important lesson. "You never know, keep an eye on the grease and never leave it unattended," he cautioned.
Hendley says the house is a complete loss. They plan to start over and rebuild from the ground up.
The Red Cross is helping the family as they look for a place to live while they rebuild.
An account has been set up for the family at First Community Bank in Fitzgerald. Anyone who wants to help can also drop off donations at the Ocilla Fire Department.