Fire leaves Perrin Creek Road couple homeless

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Dec 05, 2018 - 01:01 PM

Photo: Blanche and Frank West and their family lost everything when their Perrin Creek Road home caught fire Nov. 28. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Blanche and Frank West and their family lost everything when their Perrin Creek Road home caught fire Nov. 28. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Photo: Firefighters with the Abingdon Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad perform overhaul operations following last week’s structure fire on Perrin Creek Road. AVFRS photo

Firefighters with the Abingdon Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad perform overhaul operations following last week’s structure fire on Perrin Creek Road. AVFRS photo

After losing their home in 2003 to Hurricane Isabel, the West family saw misfortune strike once again. This time, a devastating fire destroyed their Perrin Creek Road home the afternoon of Nov. 28 and everything that was inside. 

Homeowner Frank West said his wife Blanche was the only one home at the time the blaze started near the rear of the home. “She was sitting in this room up front watching a soap opera,” West said. “She smelled smoke and thought it was someone burning something outside. They do that a lot down here.”

However, the smoke wasn’t coming from outside. “It kept getting stronger,” he said. “So, she got up and looked down the hallway toward the back bedroom and saw black smoke coming out from under the door. By then, it was too late.”

West said his wife immediately ran out of the house and went across the street to a neighbor who dialed the fire department. 

According to Drew Luellen, spokesperson for the Abingdon Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad, heavy smoke was coming from the front of the home when first responders arrived just after 2 p.m. He said the fire was quickly knocked down, and salvage and overhaul operations were completed by 4 o’clock.

He said the cause of the fire is still under investigation. However, West said he suspects a space heater that may have been left on in a back bedroom is to blame.

West, who worked on the water for 47 years, said though the house and property were paid off, he did not have insurance on the home. “It’s hard to get insurance down here,” he said. His plan was to have the house raised to keep it free from high waters that occasionally flood the area and then purchase flood and homeowner’s insurance for it. “I never got a chance for that to happen,” he said. 

In fact, West said he had just recently bought a load of lumber to build a roof over the kitchen. The couple had also recently purchased a brand-new freezer and filled it with meat, which was all destroyed in the blaze.

“We lost everything we had,” West said. “Except for the clothes we had on our backs.”

For several nights after the fire, West and his wife had been staying at a local hotel. “With that costing $80 a night, I don’t know how long we’ll be able to stay there,” he said. “But, right now, we have nowhere else to go.”

Four other family members residing in the home have been able to go stay with relatives temporarily. 

He is looking for someone who has a rental property available so they can move in as soon as possible. West said he currently doesn’t have the funds to rebuild the home on the property, but hopes to be able to do so in the future. “This is home,” he said.

To add to their troubles, West, 63, said his health is not good. He is currently on oxygen, and his main unit burned in the fire so he has been forced to use a portable oxygen tank. He suffers from a myriad of conditions including COPD, atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure. “You name it, I got it,” he said. 

The couple’s daughter has set up a GoFundMe page online called, “Help Frank West and his Family.” He also provided his cell phone number, 757-209-1930, if anyone is willing to help him find a rental unit to move his family into.