Wicomico family recovers after devastating fire

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Jun 06, 2018 - 12:03 PM

Photo: Wicomico resident Bryan Watson stands in front of the charred remains of his family’s home, where five of his dogs perished in a blaze last month. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Wicomico resident Bryan Watson stands in front of the charred remains of his family’s home, where five of his dogs perished in a blaze last month. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Wicomico resident Bryan Watson and his family lost just about everything in a fire last month that completely destroyed their home. The worst loss of all was that of five dogs who perished in the blaze.

Watson said he was the last person out of the home the afternoon of May 20. It was his daughter’s birthday and the family was going just down the street to celebrate with Watson’s mother at her home. “I had just come in and turned the air conditioner on for the dogs,” he said.

The electrical wiring running to that window air conditioner apparently caught on fire shortly after he left; and the fire spread quickly through the mobile home.

“We had been at my mom’s house for about 15 or 20 minutes when my niece, who lives down the street, called and said ‘your house is on fire.’” By the time Watson returned, the entire home was involved in fire.

“Pretty much everything we had was in that house,” he said. “However, our personal belongings don’t amount to anything compared to those dogs.” One of those dogs Watson, who suffers from PTSD and Type 2 diabetes, called his service dog. “I would have had him 10 years in October,” he said, “and I don’t think we had been separated more than a few days his entire life.”

The fire was so hot inside the home that Watson said the television in the bedroom melted off the wall. Many important documents were charred. Miraculously, he said his dogs’ papers were in the living room desk, and were basically untouched, as were his medications and wallet. “I’m not religious, but something miraculous happened” for those items to be saved, he said.

Watson said the community has already been kind with offering him and his family assistance. His wife works at the Gloucester Walmart and Watson said her co-workers have been diligently trying to raise some money and provide clothes and other basic needs to help the family since the fire.

As for future plans, Watson, who is staying with his family at his mother’s home, said he has been told by the county that he will need a demolition permit to tear down the charred remains of the mobile home and its contents. He is then hoping to find a very inexpensive mobile home to put on the property to replace it.

Watson said he was taken aback by a Gloucester Sheriff’s deputy who was first on the scene and who he said shut the door to the mobile home claiming to keep the fire from spreading. He said if the door had remained open, there may have been a better chance for his dogs to escape.

Also, when Watson attempted to cross the street toward his burning home, he told a deputy that he suffered from PTSD and felt like he was having an attack. Watson alleged that the deputy responded by poking him in the chest and saying he was having an attack too and threatened to restrain him if he tried to cross the street. After that, Watson said he backed off and the deputy proceeded to put his hand on his firearm, which he said looked to him to be in a threatening manner.