KINGSPORT — A house fire six days before Christmas has left three children, ages 3, 7 and 10, with few Christmas gifts and has displaced some of the extended family.
The fire occurred Wednesday afternoon on Charles Street and might have damaged the property beyond repair, said Jared Hensley. He is the son-in-law of Denise McGinnis, who lives in the house with three younger grandchildren and two of her own children — daughter Brittany, mother of the youngest grandchild, and son David.
Luckily, Hensley said, McGinnis had previously rented an apartment for her and the three children so that David and Brittany and probably the youngest child could live in the house. The residence belongs to Doris Arch, who lives in Big Stone Gap and takes care of her mother there. He said McGinnis works at a convenience store.
Her husband was the late David Arch, a native American who used to visit area schools to make presentations on the history, heritage, arts and dances of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation.
Anyone who would like to donate to the children or family may email Hensley and his wife, Dinah McGinnis, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (423) 256-3112.
“This close to Christmas, I hated for the kids to lose much of their stuff and the Christmas presents,” Hensley said, explaining that some Christmas gifts were not in the house. In addition, the children were on the Angel Tree list and received their presents from that program shortly after the fire. Aside from gifts for the children, Hensley said the family needs furniture and clothing.
Hensley said authorities are still investigating the origins of the fire but that it might have started in the heat pump.
He said the owner hasn’t decided whether to repair the house, if possible, or tear it down and build a new one.
The Red Cross has provided assistance to the family, including putting David and Brittany up in a hotel.
The Kingsport Fire Department has reminded families to check their smoke alarms and to have a home escape plan.