Fire destroys home near Cumby
Family safe, but they lose everything in blaze; donations needed

Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

A fireman is surrounded by a haze of smoke after fire roared through the home of Mark and Debbie Pence around midday Tuesday, leveling the structure. Fire departments from Cumby, Miller Grove and Pickton-Pine Forest were joined by Hopkins County Fire and Rescue in battling the blaze. The family lost all their possessions in the fire, but Debbie Pence said she was thankful her family was safe.
Staff Photo by Kerry Craig

Dec. 15, 2004 -- A structure fire on County Road 1126 south of Cumby at midday Tuesday destroyed the home of Mark and Debbie Pence and their two children.

The fire destroyed all the family's possessions including baby pictures, clothes and Christmas gifts, but Debbie Pence was thankful her family was safe.

"We lost it all, but it's just things," Pence said as she watched her home burn to the ground. "But that's OK, my family is safe."

Cumby Volunteer Fire Department, where Mark Pence is a volunteer, was the first to arrive on the scene and found flames coming from one end of the double-wide mobile home. Immediately, the call went out for assistance in battling the fire.

When Hopkins County Fire and Rescue arrived several minutes later, firefighter Steve Caudle said, the entire house was in flames, and additional units from Miller Grove and Pickton-Pine Forest arrived only minutes later, bringing additional personnel and equipment.

"Witnesses said that before any fire units arrived on the scene the north end of the house was fully involved," Caudle said. "By the time we got here, the whole house was fully involved."

Firemen were able to rescue one family pet from the home, but two puppies and a pet iguana died.

Caudle said the cause of the fire was not immediately identified.

Mrs. Pence said nothing electric was left turned on, except in the kitchen, near the center of the home.

"Everything was turned off except the crock pot in the kitchen," she said. "I was cooking a stew and I was going to come home to eat a quick lunch.

The Hopkins County unit of the Salvation Army was also called to the fire to provide support for firefighters and to help Mark and Debby Pence and children Sean, 21, and daughter Shannon, 16, as they begin the process of starting over.

With everything destroyed except the clothes they wore, the family is in need of clothing of all types, according to Jo Marie Neal of the Salvation Army.

Clothing needed include men's pants, size 38x33 and 30x36; men's shirts is sizes 2x and medium; men's underwear in sizes 38 and 32. For the women, large shirts and size 14-16 pants are needed along with size 8 underwear and ladies pants in size 0-1, small shirts and size 5 underwear.

Clothing for the family may be left at the Bait and Tackle Shop, 1702 South Broadway St., or KSST radio station, 717 Shannon Road.

The Salvation Army can be contacted for more information on the needs of the Pence family by calling 903-885-9858 or 903-335-1032.

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