Local News

Raleigh firefighters go beyond the call-of-duty to help woman who lost everything in fire

Posted January 12, 2021 5:29 p.m. EST

— A Raleigh woman had a tough and tragic 2020 -- only for it to end in disaster. Her home, a shed in her sister's yard, was destroyed, and all her belongings were lost in a house fire on New Year's Eve.

Inside were the cremains of her son, who died of coronavirus last April.

"I know I will never get his ashes back," said Betty Campbell.

"It hurts, it really hurts, especially to know my child is in there, burned up again."

Her son, Eric Dunlap, died a month after Campbell lost her house. At 76 years old and working two jobs, Campbell moved into the shed in her sister's yard.

Then, on New Year's Eve, something electrical sparked.

Though Campbell had trouble getting up and down her sister's stairs, she was visiting there when the fire started.

"I thank God because I could have been there asleep," said Campbell.

"[I lost] everything ... all my clothes, everything," she said.

Raleigh Station 11 responded to the fire.

"When I got back to the station, I kind of just couldn't get her off my mind," said Capt. Dena Ali. "Thinking of her circumstances.

So, she went on Facebook.

"I'm just trying to collect a little bit of money to give her a gift card and within minutes, my phone started dinging," recounted Ali.

She thought she could raise a few hundred dollars to buy clothes for Campbell.

"I got donations from all over the country," said Ali. "A friend, who's a firefighter in Idaho, sent a very large donation."

Within 24 hours, $4,000 came in and was given to Campbell.

Lt. Marcus Horne, of Victor Company, a non-profit made up of minority firefighters, worked with a company called Ameriglide to install a lift in Campbell's sister's house for free, so she won’t have to worry about those stairs.

"This story, this little situation showed me that we're not as divided as we think. I really think we truly share this common humanity that makes people want to look out for each other," said Ali.

Campbell also lost her car keys in the fire, and she was worried that she wouldn't be able to get to work. But Heister Chevrolet made her a new set of car keys at no cost.

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