Mother, three daughters homeless after Whitwell fire
A mother and her three daughters are homeless after a fire destroyed the place they had just begun renting.
It happened Saturday afternoon at a home on Grayson Road in Whitwell. The family moved in November 1 and after a little more than a week, the home caught fire. The landlord said a space heater may be to blame.
No one was hurt but the family's dog is still missing.
"I got a call from my landlord and he was frantic. He said your house is on fire, your house is on fire. Where ya at? I said 'we're on our way,'" said Vandy Gibson.
Vandy Gibson, 36, had just finished her first day at her new fast food job. She was driving her three kids ages 13, 9 and 5 from Whitwell to their new home 20 minutes away when she got the call from her landlord.
"We could see the smoke over the horizon driving there," she said, "My kids were screaming in the back seat, the dog, the dog!"
And then she thought of Spike, their long-haired, Doxie-Terrier mix of 9 years.
"I said we got the dog in the house! He said we kicked the door in. I don't know if the dog got out," she said.
"She said oh Lord is my dog okay? I said I can't see no dog, I can't hear no dog," said Phillip Brumley.
Phillip Brumley has owned the house since the seventies. He knew Gibson was "down on her luck," so he was letting them stay there for free. The family had been bouncing around the area and staying with friends since March. This was to be their first real home in months.
"The smoke was so thick, we just couldn't go in at all. The smoke just covered us," said Brumley.
But by the time Brumley and his son kicked down the door, the fire was too big. He spent Monday saving what he can from the house.
Meanwhile, Gibson prays that her dog is found alive as she searches for a new place and new anything for her three girls.
"I don't know where we're going to go. We have no family. Just me and the girls," she said. "They lost everything, school books, library cards, school supplies, my 5-year-old's breathing medication. She's got asthma."
The Red Cross put the family up in a hotel where a group of teachers from Whitwell Middle School has since paid for the family to stay until Saturday. Any donations may be dropped off at the school.
If you'd like to help out the Gibson family, visit her Facebook page or call her cell phone 423-255-6752.
Ashland (age 5) - 5T in clothes, size 2 shoe
Aly (age 9) - 10 in clothes, size 4 shoe
Savannah (age 13) - 16 pants, XL shirt, size 10 shoe