HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (Madisonville Messenger/KPNS)– 15 Earlington residents are picking up the pieces after a Monday evening fire obliterated their apartment complex. Almost all of the displaced tenants are children.
Donna Gibson, 27, spent her Tuesday morning at the Hopkins County Assistance Center in pajamas and flip flops while she attempted to recreate a wardrobe for herself and two children — 11-year-old Serenity Gibson and 8-year-old Kahlil White. The three lost everything in the fire that originated from their unit at 102 Quail Run Apartments.
According to Gibson, she and family friend/babysitter Donnie Durham were preparing dinner for the family around 6 p.m. when Gibson left to briefly to visit the store. When she returned, the children were standing outside the four-unit building.
"He said the stove had caught on fire," she said. "When he was trying to put the burner out, he knocked over a pan of oil that I kept on the stove to fry stuff. I now wish I had never done that. It engulfed the apartment so quickly.
"When I opened the front door, I couldn’t see through the black smoke," Gibson continued. "At that point, I turned around and told the kids to go as far away from the building as they could. As I backed up, flames started coming through. I just stepped back and watched everything burn up."
Meanwhile, all of the building’s tenants who were at home at the time evacuated.
"I had just got home from work." said Justin Underwood, who lived with his family of four in the unit next to Gibson’s. "All of us were home. Some kids knocked on the door and said our apartment was on fire. It just went from there."
The Earlington Fire Department, which is located less than 1 mile away, was the first to arrive to the complex. They were joined by units from Mortons Gap, Grapevine, Richland, South Hopkins and St. Charles shortly thereafter.
The fire was deemed under control just after 7 p.m., though units stayed on-scene until the fire was completely extinguished two hours later. Gibson’s unit is a total loss, while Underwood’s and the two other adjoining apartments are severely damaged by smoke, and therefore uninhabitable.
The total cost of the damage has not yet been assessed, however the scorched building will be demolished and rebuilt. Quail Run Apartments, which has eight buildings, has been located on Partridge Drive off New Arnold Street since 1981.
In the meantime, the four families that have been uprooted by the incident are temporarily staying with families and in hotels.
"I am trying to find the silver lining in everything," Gibson sad. "I know God does everything for a reason, and I guess this is the time to start over."
The assistance center and several area churches are now accepting donations to help the families replace as many possessions as possible. Clothing sizes needed include: 12-month female; girls’ shirts 5/6; boys’ shirts 2T/3T; boys’ shirts 4; male and female youth shirt sizes 10/12; adult shirt sizes large, extra large and 6X; women’s pants sizes 0-5, 8, 14/16 and 32; men’s pants size 30; boys’ pants size 4; and shoe sizes 13 children’s, 4-6 youth, 8 women’s, 9.5 women’s and 11 men’s.
Families also need household items, personal items, furniture and other incidentals. Dropoff locations include the assistance center, 130 Branch St., Madisonville; Bible Way Church, 1229 South Main St., Madisonville; Landon’s Hope, 2900 U.S. 41 S., Sebree; and Hadassah Hair Studio, 45 S. Main St., Madisonville. Items should be marked "fire" before they are donated.