Christmas nightmare: Fire destroys Norfolk home

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Norfolk family was forced out of their home after a fire early Christmas morning.

The Mitchell family has owned the house on Andrew Lane since the 1950s. “It’s just so shocking,” said Janet Mitchell.

It’s not the way the Mitchell family thought they’d spend Christmas. They never thought they’d be living at a hotel, but the fire turned their lives upside down.

“I never dreamed we would have a fire that would take almost the whole house,” Mitchell added.  “You’re just so numb.”

It was Christmas morning just before 4 a.m.

Janet Mitchell and her daughter-in-law Paula were sleeping. Mitchell’s son, Chris, was up and lighting a candle. He accidentally dropped the lighter on the couch.

“I didn’t think it would go up that fast,” Chris said.

But it did. He burned himself trying to put it out, but had no luck.

“It got to be so big,” Chris added. “We just had to get out of the house.”

The family was able to escape with only the clothes they were wearing. They could find only one of their two cats.

“It was so black and dark and I couldn’t breathe,” said Paula Mitchell. “I couldn’t get in.  I wanted to save her so bad.”

Firefighters found the cat dead inside. The day that was meant to be so joyous turned anything but.

“You’re thinking I can’t come back to this,” Janet added.  “How long will I not have a home?”

The Mitchells haven’t been able to get in to see what could be saved.  The Fire Marshal determined the house is unsafe to live in.

“I think maybe we lost the wedding album, but we aren’t sure,” Chris said.  “So many things. Some replaceable and some not.”

Now comes the uncertainty.  They don’t know what’s next, and where they will live.

Co-workers and neighbors have started collecting clothing and other items from the family.  A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help get the Mitchells back on their feet.

To donate, click here.

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