Kelsey and Nicholas Tucker and their four children of Drakesville lost nearly all of their possessions in a house fire Tuesday, Feb. 4.
The couple had worked all morning cleaning their house before the arrival of prospective buyers at 5 p.m. Kelsey even put out a few things to make the residence “look cute.”
By 5 p.m. that evening, however, the house was a pile of charred rubble and there was nothing cute about it.
A neighbor, Lila Thompson, called Davis County dispatchers at 3:03 p.m. to report the fire. Ironically, Dispatcher Kathy Main (Kelsey’s mother) had just gone off duty at 3 p.m., leaving the next dispatcher to handle the emergency call.
The Tuckers, who were away from home at that time, also received a call from Thompson and hurried home.
“We ended up pulling up about the same time the fire departments arrived,” Kelsey said. “There was smoke rolling out of the attic.”
Fire Chief Jeff McClure said firefighters from all four county departments spent nine hours fighting the fire, then had to return at 5 a.m. the next day when it rekindled.
Law enforcement officers and EMS personnel were also present as the fire raged through the structure on a cold night.
McClure believes the fire was electrical, starting in the area of the kitchen stove and refrigerator.
He also said the fire was trapped between a metal roof and sheeting covered with six layers of asphalt shingles, making the firefighters’ job more difficult and contributing to the rekindling.
“We’re very grateful for the community’s support and kindness,” Kelsey said, commending the fire departments and friends, relatives, and neighbors.
The support began when Marty Thompson, Kelly Neal and her son Cody, Ray Cook and FedEx and UPS drivers helped move things away from the burning house.
Community members immediately responded to the need to find housing and Realtors Lincoln Lynch and AJ Brown began searching
The Tuckers and their four children — Hannah, 14; Kaleb,10; Ethan, 7; and Myra, 5 — are currently staying with her grandparents, Jerry and Helen Black who live in Bloomfield.
However, Kale and Ramona Koehn of Bloomfield heard of the family’s plight and offered a rental house in Bloomfield. The Tuckers began moving into the house over the weekend.
Many have already contributed clothing for the children, such as the BACA (Bikers Against Child Abuse) who delivered two truckloads of clothing and other items for the children, and Grace Pointe Church of the Nazarene has offered to serve as a collection point for donated goods.
Other drop-off locations for those wishing to donate are Wells Hometown Pharmacy, Helen and Jerry Black’s home at 404 E. Arkansas, and Midwest Auto at 414 Garfield Street in Ottumwa.
Kelsey said items needed are bedding, pillows, dressers, kithen utensils, home décor, and beds.
“We are sitting well for clothing and want to thank the community for providing this to us, but we still need shoes. Sizes are boys 3 and 5/6; girls 13/1; women’s 8.5 and 9.5 and men’s 9.5.
Kelsey said the family has so much to be grateful for and she sees God’s hand at work in all that has happened.
“Sunday at church (The Bridge in Ottumwa), the sermon was about rebuilding walls and trusting in the Lord. It was perfect for what we were going through,” she said.
Kelsey was also grateful that her wedding ring was found. She had not been wearing the ring because of her pregnancy (the couple is expecting a baby girl in May). Firemen located her jewelry box, which by that time was “toast” but the wedding ring was fine as was a ring Ethan had given her on Mother’s Day.
“Another thing that was awesome,” Kelsey remarked, “was my roll-top desk was charred and covered in soot, but when we opened it up, my Bible was fine—even the case doesn’t look like it has been through a fire.”
Myra was also pleased that her firefighter’s hat from her Halloween costume somehow ended up outside unharmed.
However, some of the family’s pets didn’t fare quite as well. A cat and dog were outside of the house and were spared, but three hamsters, two bearded dragons, and a tank full of fish didn’t survive.