Local News

Brotherhood Of Firemen Helps Colleague In Need

Posted December 23, 2003 6:22 a.m. EST

— One week before Christmas, a volunteer firefighter and his family lost everything when their house went up in flames. The couple had nothing left to give their kids until his fellow firefighters came to the rescue.

Lights on an upstairs Christmas tree started a fire that swept quickly through the Strickland family's home. Tara Strickland was home with her three young children when it happened.

"I ran upstairs, got maybe to the third step and all I saw was black smoke," she said.

Tara rushed her kids out and called 911. Her husband, Thomas, who is a volunteer firefighter for Elm City, was on his way to work when his pager went off.

"They gave out my address and it was everything I could do to get back home," he said.

By the time he got there, everyone was out safely, but the flames gutted their home, including most of the family's Christmas presents.

"Everything we had was here. A lot of our memories and everything we had is gone," Thomas said.

Once word got out, firefighters from across Wilson County started calling the station in Elm City, wanting to help the Stricklands with food, clothing and presents for the holiday.

"He always told me there was a brotherhood between the firemen and I never understood it until this happened, and I saw what everyone was doing for us," Tara said.

The Red Cross also brought the Stricklands toys for the kids and told the couple they have furniture when they are ready for it. Strickland said he wants to rebuild in the same spot because his grandfather built the original home there 50 years ago.