Fire causes loss a second time for family - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

West Frankfort, IL

Fire causes loss a second time for family

Fire causes loss a second time for family
By:
Carly O'Keefe

West Frankfort, IL - Lightning struck twice for Dorothy Leach. "Seems like one tragedy after another," said Dorothy Thursday walking through the yard that up until Wednesday afternoon was a playground for her seven grand kids. Now it's a littered mess of melted toys and charred pieces of what was their home.

In March 2004, Dorothy's five-year-old grandson Daniel (D.J.) Wilkins was sleeping over at a house that burned to the ground, less than half a block away from Dorothy's home.

Three adults and one child made it out alive. D.J. did not.

The fire chief believed the fire began when one of the adults was using a lighter to look under the couch for something she dropped.

Thursday, it was Dorothy's home that was gutted by fire, leaving she and her seven remaining grand kids with no where to live.

Neighbors reported seeing kids with a lighter near Dorothy's garage. A car bench seat was propped up against the wall and evidently caught fire. Fire officials say that's to blame for igniting the blaze that took everything from Dorothy and her grand kids.

"I was feeding the kids supper, we were in the kitchen eating and my granddaughter and them ran outside to play and she ran back inside and said ‘Grandma! Grandma! There's a fire by the garage," said Dorothy.

Having already lost one grand child to a house fire, Dorothy had one priority: get the kids out.

"I got 'em all outta there, boy. Made sure they were safe."

Then Dorothy ran inside the garage with a fire extinguisher. Neighbor Mattie Goddard's fiancé was already outside the garage spraying the flames with a garden hose.

"He tried to get it out, but it was too late. The house was already on fire," said Goddard.

When fire crews arrived, the blaze was out of control.

"And now we're homeless, everything is gone, we lost everything," said Dorothy.

She raises her grand kids on a fixed income, and Dorothy says she's not sure what to do now. The home was not insured.  

"No, couldn't afford that with all the other things. Just did the best we could do."

But Dorothy knows the fire could have taken much more than her home.

"That first time was terrible, losing little D.J. And this here is bad, but at least we all survived this. We can always get another house, and I told the grand kids that too. We'll come up, it just takes time," said Dorothy.

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