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Fire In Downtown Clayton Destroys Helping Hand Mission

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CLAYTON — A fire broke out in Clayton Friday night, destroying the Helping HandMission, a place where people in need went for help.

Firefighters from Smithfield, Wilson's Mills, Garner, and Knightdale were called into help fight the fire. Two other businesses were threatened by the fire.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, but authorities suspect natural gas may beresponsible.

The people who usually spend their Saturdays helping others in what used to be theHelping Hand Mission could only look at the fire damaged building andwonder. Gloria Sims worked at the Helping Hand Mission for eight years. She called it herhome.

"That was my baby. I lovedworking with the people. I loved working with the public and all," she says. "Now I don'tknow what I'm going to do because it'sgone. This is going to be a loss to me as well as the community."

The most important accomplishment for the firefighters was keeping thefire to one building.

It took some fast work and quick thinking to save the adjoining buildingson both sides. One was a family-owned furniture store.

Firefighters moved the furniture away from the wall and called the manager of a nearbyhardware store out of bed tobring over some tarps to cover the furniture.

Leigh Hudson calls his helping out part of the joy of living in a small town likeClayton.

"I was glad to help out. It made me feel good," he says. "The opportunity to have those relationships where you know the fire chief and the police chief and the local hardwarestore owner [is wonderful]. Everyone knows everyone here, and we have toget in touchwith each other when we have a time of need."

"It's going to be a loss but we're going to get it back together by thehelp of the Lord, Ms. [Sylvia] Wiggins [whooperates the Helping Hand Mission], and the community," says Sims. -->

If you would like to help out in any way, you can call 919-828-9744.

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