Family loses everything but hope in house fire

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Annie Blanks @DestinLogAnnie

FREEPORT — Just two weeks before Christmas, a family is remaining hopeful and trying to rebuild after a fire destroyed their home and nearly everything in it.

Sunday night at around 9:45 p.m., family matriarch Kellie Jackson said she was in her mobile home on McCloud Drive in Freeport putting her 9-year-old son to bed when her 12-year-old daughter came running in. 

“I heard my daughter say, ‘Momma, there’s smoke, there’s smoke and there’s fire,’ ” Kellie said. “I jumped straight up running and I could already see smoke filling up our house … I could hear my husband outside yelling, ‘Call 911! Get the babies out, get the babies out.’ ”

A fire had erupted in a trailer attached to the home after an old space heater had tipped over, Kellie said, and quickly spread to the family’s mobile home. Jackson shared the home with her husband, Joey, and her three youngest children, 9-year-old son Joey, 12-year-old daughter Jalen and 16-year-old daughter Kaden.

Her other two children, 23-year-old Haven and 20-year-old Jaden, lived elsewhere on the property with their young children.

By the time crews from Walton County Fire Rescue and Eglin Air Force Base Fire Department Site 6 arrived, the blaze had engulfed most of the mobile home, the shed and a family car. Though the family made it out of the home and nobody was injured, Kellie said her husband had gone back into the home to try and salvage the kids’ Christmas presents. 

“The Christmas tree was kind of melted, but my husband had gone into the trailer twice to try and save his babies’ presents, to try to save Christmas,” Kellie said. “And the police were here, of course, and they finally had to put him in a police car cause he would not quit trying to save his family’s stuff. (The presents) are salvageable but they were wet.”

Kellie said the presents had been for the five children and three grandchildren, ages six weeks, nine months and three years.

In the aftermath of the fire, Kellie said she doesn’t know what comes next, but is going to “rely on the Lord and he’s going to take care of us, I know he will.”

In addition to God, Kellie’s brother, Kurtis Cheatham, has organized a GoFundMe account for the family that has already raised over $2,700 as of Wednesday morning. Additionally, Kellie said some members of the Walton County School Board as well as superintendent Russell Hughes came together the day after the fire and provided Kellie’s three school-aged children with brand new clothes and school supplies to replace items lost in the fire.

Haven said family friends and total strangers have reached out to see how they could help.

“I hate that a situation like this has to happen to give you hope and faith for the world,” Haven said. “But right when you think that this world is up to no good and that there’s nothing left good in it, something bad like this can happen and it really does give you faith and hope that there are still good people out there.”

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