A surreal Saturday night | News | The Press and Standard

by | July 6, 2017 5:00 am

Last Updated: July 5, 2017 at 11:54 am

Ronnie and Gena Reeves were visiting with Ronnie’s father the evening of July 1 when they received a phone call that plunged their life into disarray.

The call was from Ronnie’s brother, telling the couple that their home at 253 Jenkins Club Road, east of Cottageville, was on fire.

Colleton County Fire-Rescue received the fire alert from the emergency dispatch center July 1 at 9:20 p.m. The first fire units arrived at the home a few minutes later to find 60 percent of the triple-wide mobile home on fire and the roof in the rear of the residence collapsed.

Gena Reeves said when they arrived at their house from her father-in-law’s home, they found 11 fire trucks and three ambulances on the scene and their residence engulfed in flames.

Gena said she, her husband, their 21-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter had not been home when the fire began. The family’s dogs, she added, were also out of the residence.

“To stand and watch your home burn is surreal,” Gena said. “There are no tears left in my body.”

“Thankfully, no one was hurt,” Gena said. But the fire has left scars. “We lost 25 years — we lost everything. Things can’t be replaced, that were cherished.”

Firefighters deployed multiple handlines to combat the fire.

A tender shuttle was established for water supply to battle the flames.

Crews worked for over 35 minutes to gain control of the fire and were on the scene for another five hours performing overhaul.

The cause of the fire appears to have been electrical in nature, possibly starting in the breaker box near the back door.

The Red Cross arrived at the scene to offer the family assistance. The family told the Red Cross officials that they would have no need of temporary housing, as they would be staying with Ronnie’s father. The Red Cross official gave Ronnie his card, telling the family to call if they needed assistance.

Gena marveled at the efforts of the firefighters. “They are amazing.”

Everybody knows the concept of what firefighters do, she said. It is quite different, “seeing them taking care of your house even though they don’t know you — to see them risking their life for a family they don’t know,” Gena said.

She watched as teams of firefighters battling the blaze turned over their efforts to another crew, made their way to a mat placed on the ground, took off their air-depleted tanks, their bulky bunker coats and other protective gear and drop to the mat to gulp a steady supply of water while they attempted to replenish their energy.

A few minutes later, the gear would go back on and they would rejoin the battle. “They would never hesitate,” Gena said.

Gena said she feels at a lost to find the words that could adequately voice her appreciation. “Saying thank you seems almost insulting.”

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