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Community rallies behind Sanford family after devastating weekend fire

Posted March 1

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— Fire destroyed three buildings in Sanford over the weekend, shattering the lives of one family. But the community has come together to help get them back on their feet.

Rev. Robert Douglas, his wife and two children lived in one of the buildings near the intersection of Matthews and Bragg streets, and Douglas operated Michael's Marvels, a comic book store, in a second building. The third building formerly housed Robert's Cabinet Shop, which his father closed a few years ago when he retired.

The family was at church when fire swept through the buildings early Sunday afternoon. Investigators say they believe the blaze started in the old cabinet shop, but the damage was so thorough that they may never know how it started.

Douglas' father, also named Robert, estimated the fire caused about $700,000 in damage, and the family had no insurance.

"Insurance companies don't put insurance on cabinet businesses. You always lose in that end," the elder Douglas said.

Neighbors are picking up the slack, donating money, furnishings and clothes to help the family recover.

"They had a set of bunk beds donated to them. They don't have any covers for the bunk beds. They had a queen-size bed donated to Robbie and his wife, and they don't have any covers for that," family member Peggy Brown said.

Marelda Creech, who lives across the street from the Douglas family, took pictures of the buildings going up in flames on Sunday. She later took out her checkbook to help.

"They were going through the rubble and picking up clothes and looking through the clothes and shaking the clothes and stuff," Creech said. "I know Kelli very well, and I know she's a good person, and so I just wrote them a $500 check, and I gave it to them."

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