Florence house fire leaves family in need

Fire damage is evident on the exterior of the Bailey home at 222 W. Second St. in Florence.In these tough economic times, imagine one piece of bad luck creating a major financial setback such as a house fire with no insurance coverage.

For one Florence couple, Micah and Treva Bailey, that did happen, and through no fault of their own. Their house at 222 W. Second St. is badly damaged by fire.

?I got a telephone call shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday, (Feb. 18),? Micah Bailey said. ?Apparently, the fire originated in my neighbor?s yard.?

According to Bailey, his 92-year-old neighbor had emptied some ashes out in the yard that were still hot.

?The way the wind was blowing out of the west, it caught (the neighbor?s) two sheds on fire and turned around and got my house,? Bailey said.

Fortunately, he said, his wife and their five children weren?t home, but four of their five dogs were still in the house.

Florence Fire Chief Mark Slater said he didn?t know there were any dogs in the house.

?While we were going through it, we found the dogs and got them out,? he said.

Bailey said there were three miniature Schnauzers and one bullmastiff puppy.

As for their home, Bailey said, a lot of the damage was from smoke and water.

?It took our upstairs and downstairs bathrooms, our boys? bedrooms and basically the west and south side of the house,? he said.

The neighbor who was responsible for the blaze, according to Bailey, also didn?t have any homeowner?s insurance.

After feeling a lot of anxiety about the damage and how his family would get by, Bailey said the elderly couple have been there neighbors for 15 years.

?It is like our family,? he said about the couple.

Slater said the fire was ruled ?accidental,? and the Bailey?s home sustained about $20,000 in damage.

?It didn?t take that long to get the fire out,? Slater added, ?but we stayed on scene to make sure all the hot spots in the insulation were out.?

It was windy (on Tuesday), Slater noted.

?The outbuildings went first and then the fire worked its way to the house heading east,? he said.

It was about four hours later before firefighters left.

The Florence Fire Department had 10 firefighters at the scene, along with four from the Peabody Fire Department and six from the Marion Fire Department.

?We have mutual aid with all the fire departments in the county,? he said.

Family could use help

The American Red Cross helped the Bailey family from Tuesday through Saturday with motel accommodations, but by Sunday, the family needed to rely on help from friends and family.

According to Slater, donation buckets are available throughout the community of Florence.

?Aulne and Florence United Methodist Church are also getting together to see if they can do something to help the Baileys,? Slater said.

Anyone who would like to donate clothing, supplies or make monetary donations to the family, may contact the churches.

The Baileys also have an 11-year-old daughter who has special needs.

Busy week

The Florence Fire Department continued to have a busy week when firefighters were again called out Wednesday, Feb. 19, to a house fire at 440 Grandview.

According to Slater, the cause of the blaze remains undetermined.

The house, he said, is owned by Thomas Davis.

?The fire started in the living room,? he said.

Regarding damage, Slater said he estimated the amount to be between $10,000 and $20,000.

?There was smoke damage throughout the entire house, but very little structural damage,? he said.

In addition to Florence firefighters, Slater also contacted the Marion Fire Department for mutual aid.

Slater also wanted to remind everyone about some of the fire dangers during the next few months.

?This time of year, it is getting dry and people need to be real careful when doing any kind of outside burning,? he said. ?Be very, very careful out there.?

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