MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 23, 2013

Braggs family homeless after fire

Family believes fire may have been electrical

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— BRAGGS — David and Philippa Speers looked over the remains of their home and wondered if there was anything they could save.

The Speers’ home was destroyed by fire Monday afternoon. Philippa and Debra Newsome, David’s mother, who also lived in the home, cried quietly as they surveyed the damage Tuesday morning.

“Some things you just can’t replace,” Newsome said. “I just can’t get over how it looks nothing like it did.”

All expressed relief Newsome and the Speers’ 6-year-old daughter escaped the fire without injury.

David, who was at school when the fire began, said his family is strong and can make it through anything.

“When my mother called me I couldn’t get out of her at first if my daughter was all right,” he said. “But when she said she was just fine, all my worries went away.”

The family was purchasing the home, whose owners said they did have insurance coverage. The family was assisted by the American Red Cross but aren’t sure what their long-term solution for housing will be, David said.

Newsome and her granddaughter were spending the afternoon at home Monday when they both smelled smoke.

“I went into the bedroom and there was just flames coming out of the wall, on the carpet,” she said. “I tried to smother them with a blanket and it caught fire too.”

Newsome got herself, her granddaughter and dogs out of the house and called 911.

“The firefighters were all volunteers and they didn’t take long to get here,” she said. “They were excellent. But they couldn’t get it out easily. It was in the walls, the attic.”

The family was amazed by the response from the neighborhood, they said. Their daughter’s clothing needs have already been taken care of, thanks to neighbors, Philippa said.

“The whole neighborhood came, and they were just wonderful,” David said.

The family said they think the fire may have been electrical, but it hasn’t been officially confirmed.

“We had a light switch, some outlets that worked off and on,” David said. “My mother said fire was coming out of the walls. They had to use a tractor to pull them down to get the fire out. It was so bad.”

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.