Kingston family moving on after fire
by Amanda Ryker
Dec 16, 2011 | 4091 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Farmers HelpPoint Claims Adjuster Chris Melton gets a measurement at 22 Lee St. in Kingston, the scene of a fire on Dec. 12. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Farmers HelpPoint Claims Adjuster Chris Melton gets a measurement at 22 Lee St. in Kingston, the scene of a fire on Dec. 12. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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"It's just overwhelming at how wonderful and blessed I am," Susan Kimbell said through tears Thursday after losing her Kingston home in a fire Monday night.

Kimbell was one of two victims to blazes Monday that claimed two homes in separate incidents -- one on Lee Street in Kingston and the other on Criss-Black Road in Cartersville. The American Red Cross was notified by the Bartow County Fire Department and offered assistance to the families.

"I had to call into the Red Cross myself [Tuesday] just to find out how to get immediate help," Amanda Pruitt, Kimbell's daughter, said. "That's what we needed, was something right then. Everybody was scrambling to get something together, but we had to have something right then. The kids didn't have a toothbrush or a change of clothes or anything."

Battalion Chief Bryan Cox with the BCFD said investigators have determined the fire started in the kitchen, in and around the stove, but the official cause of the fire remains undetermined.

Jeffrey Putnam, Red Cross Northwest Georgia chapter executive director, said BCFD typically notifies them when families may be in need.

"They're very good about keeping us in the loop when things are going on and if a family's been involved in a fire and needs help," Putnam said.

With assistance from the Red Cross for food and clothing, Kimbell has been "blessed" with gifts, love and prayers from the community.

"I had all my Christmas bought for my grandkids and it's all coming in and they're going to have Santa Claus," Kimbell said. "We're all gonna be alright."

"She went from Monday night to having absolutely nothing -- house burnt slap to the ground, not a change of clothes -- to by Tuesday afternoon, she had a house [to rent]," Pruitt said. "So, by the first of next week, they will be completely moved in and have a fresh start.

"We've took a negative and turned it into a positive. The grandkids in the home are going to have a wonderful Christmas. It's brought the family back together. The ones that were out of touch with one another and -- you know when you have rifts in your family and a tragedy happens everybody pulls together and you do what you've got to do and you sacrifice things.

"We're piled up at my house and double beds. We were taking baths last night and ran out of hot water and the kids are throwing food and laughing and just having a good time. My nephew told me last night, 'This is the best day ever!' and it's like, 'Wow! OK, I guess it is."

Putnam noted that volunteers responded to the incident and moved into action right away.

"The Disaster Action Team responded," Putnam said, adding that volunteers are still needed. "Even in Bartow, which is one of our better counties for volunteers, we only have about a dozen that's active in the disaster volunteer regimen. So we're always on the lookout for more volunteers.

"As far as disaster volunteers, really we've got two different types: we've got the volunteers that respond to the local disasters and that is your DAT team, and then we've got volunteers that respond to only big disasters, only national disasters. We need those, but our biggest need right now is the local DAT volunteers that are willing to get up at a moment's notice and go out in the middle of the night or go out in the middle of the business day and go help these families and folks that have fires or a tree falls on their house or stuff of that nature."

Putnam also said that blood is still needed just as critically as "stuff" donations.

"Our holiday fundraising campaign was all about stuff, give stuff that means something," Putnam said. "There's always a huge need for blood, just like financial donations, it's down. People are busy, they're out of town they're traveling."

For those who have had negative experiences when donating blood, Putnam urges them not to let that turn someone away from donating.

"Don't let [a bad experience] make you weary of giving blood," Putnam said. "It just happens. I was a paramedic for 10 years on an ambulance and sometimes no matter how good you are inserting a catheter or needle sometimes the veins just can't support it for whatever reasons. Don't let that worry you too much.

"Every time someone donates blood, that's three people that blood is gonna help because it gets broken down into three different parts. So every one of your donations, you're helping three different people. Don't hesitate about doing that."

For Kimbell and Pruitt, they're overwhelmed with gratitude for the help and love their family has received in light of the tragedy.

"We just want everyone to know that we're thankful," Pruitt said, noting that Creekside Fellowship, Kingston Baptist and Kingston Methodist churches as well as Sam Franklin's Furniture and many more were instrumental in helping the family move forward. "We can't mention everyone's name and can't thank them on a personal level, but from the bottom of our hearts, we are just truly grateful that we're even thought of or anyone would say a prayer. Just a phone call or offering to help. We've told people we understand if you don't have anything to give, just saying a prayer has helped us -- just telling us that you're there and offering condolences."

"Everybody ain't gonna give you furniture or dishes but they're gonna give you love and prayer and that's what you need most of all. That's what counts," Kimbell said.

To volunteer for the Red Cross or join the Disaster Action Team, visit the organization's website at www.nwgaredcross.org or call the chapter office at 706-291-6648.