Local News

Fire claims material things, not family memories

Posted December 16, 2011 9:20 p.m. EST
Updated December 17, 2011 7:18 a.m. EST

— Gene and Violet Humphries are clinging to memories this holiday season after a fire claimed most of their worldly possessions. The Humphries and their three granddaughters, ages 7, 8 and 9, were unharmed in the fire that swept through their North Raleigh home Thursday night. 

As they grieve for the things they lost, they are focusing on the gift of life. 

The couple had lived in the home at 320 Northfield Drive for more than three decades, building a life. 

"We hated to lose all of our belongings that we worked so hard for, but I know that can be replaced," Violet Humphries said.

Her husband added, "I know people say that material things don't mean anything, but when you've worked for them together, it does mean something.

"We were both raised very poorly. And when we got married, we were determined we were going to have nice things for our children."

Violet Humphries will especially feel the loss of her photo albums – 56 years worth of memories.

She was preparing dinner, getting ready to fry chicken on the stove, when her husband called her to help him clean up an overflowing wash machine. She left the frying pan full of grease on the stove. 

"We got busy in the laundry and simply forgot it," she said. "One of the granddaughters came down and started yelling, 'Fire! Fire!'"

In a matter of minutes, the kitchen was ablaze. 

The children ran to a neighbor's house while Violet Humphries called the fire department. 

"We hated to lose all of our belongings that we worked so hard for, but I know that can be replaced," she said.

Within 24 hours, the Humphries felt the helping hands of their church families at Lifestreams Christian Church, 6908 Lamarsh Court, and Trinity Baptist Church, 4815 Six Forks Road. Neighbors gave them a place to stay, and the two churches are helping with donations and getting them clothes.

"We're blessed by so many friends and extended church families," Gene Humphries said. "We need everybody's prayers to keep us going from day to day."

Despite financial struggles and the loss of a son earlier this year, the Humphries remain optimistic.

"God has always taken care of us," his wife said. "He's always made a way."