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Community comes together to support Tallahassee man who lost memories of late wife, pets in house fire

Posted at 6:40 PM, Feb 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-03 21:14:34-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A Tallahassee man lost his home and two pets all in one night. And he just lost his wife, weeks ago.

The fire happened a few days ago but you can still smell the burned, charred materials.

Larry Smith says this isn't even the worst thing he's been through recently, but now, neighbors are stepping in to help.

"I mean, it's an old, wood-framed house," said Larry Smith. "It spread like wildfire."

Larry Smith stepped out to see some friends Saturday night and left the fireplace going since it was cold outside. When he came back, his house was in ruins.

This loss comes too close to another one.

His wife Jane, died right before Christmas. She was in the hospital recovering from heart surgery.

"They told me I would be able to take her home in a couple days," said Smith. "She was walking, talking healing and fighting so hard to get better. And she got staph infection."

Smith says the fire took what was left of her.

"Everything that meant anything is in that pile of rubble," said Smith. "Her wedding ring, pictures, wedding albums...my dog is in there somewhere."

"It's pretty devastating at this point. He's still in a lot of shock. Still has a lot of things to get done," explained Shannon Smith, his daughter-in-law.

Smith only had mortgage insurance,which means he doesn't have to pay a house bill this month, but he will have to pay to fix up everything else, from the ground up.

"We're going to be doing all of this on our own," Smith explained.

But now, the community is stepping in to bring in a little help.

"He's here a lot and he takes care of us and we take care of him," said Brianne Chappel, a server at Corner Pocket. "He and his late wife Ms. Jane are just amazing people."

Brianne Chappel calls Smith a part of the Corner Pocket family.

That's why now, the bar is hosting a benefit for him on Feb. 22 with a raffle, gift donations and prizes to help Smith get back on his feet.

"When somebody in the community is down everybody should just rally," said Chappel. "This is somebody that doesn't deserve what's happened to him and he deserves everything we can give back to him."

"It's just overwhelming you can get this kind of support," said Smith.

ABC 27 also talked to the Tallahassee Fire Department who says fires do not discriminate. So when warming up your home, remember to keep everything at least three feet away from heating equipment.

If you would like to donate to help Smith rebuild his home, click here.