The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

January 7, 2014

UPDATE: Fire displaces family in Clements community

By Jean Cole
jean@athensnews-courier.com

CLEMENTS — A family is safe but without the comforts of home following a fire about 10 a.m. today off Zehner Road in the Clements community.

Clements firefighters battled the blaze in 12-degree temperatures but could not save the structure.

One occupant, Jessica White, 23, who is 5 months pregnant, declined to be taken by ambulance to Athens-Limestone for an examination due to possible smoke inhalation. She said she would go later today. 

A friend of White's, Melvin Claybaugh and his 6-year-old son, James, who were visiting, were at home in bed when the fire broke out before 10 a.m., White said.

White along with her 4-year-old daughter, Elektra; Claybaugh's 7-year-old daughter, Skyler; and White's friend, Kelsey Coggins, had gone to pick up breakfast because the electricity and water were not working in the home due to the cold and an outage, she said.

White had just driven out of the mobile home park when she realized she had forgotten her wallet, she said. She returned to find the fire in the floor. She believes the fire started when the electricity was restored to the heating and air-conditioning unit outside the home.

Although they managed to pull a few items from the home before it was overrun by smoke and flames, White lost everything; Coggins lost her jeans, which were in White's washing machine; Claybaugh lost his telephone and other items; and his son escaped but without any socks or shoes.

Clements firefighter got the children to hop into the cab of the firetruck to keep warm. But, 4-year-old Elektra didn't want to get in the firetruck or another car to keep warm. She was too sad about the loss of her home. As firefighters battled the smoke, flames and cold, White stood outside the home trying to comfort Elektra, who was sitting atop a car crying.

The Red Cross is on its way to help the family. If you would also like to assist, White can be reached at 256-998-3245.