CORRYTON, Tenn. (WATE) — A Corryton family lost just everything in a house fire, and now they’re thanking the community for helping replace some of the items that were destroyed. In the early morning hours of Sept. 10, Rural Metro responded to a house on fire in the 8400 block of Tazewell Pike.
That home belonged to the Hughes’ family. Zach Hughes was awake and outside when the fire started.
“I was outside on the lawn mower, piddling around near the barn, and seen the kitchen, smoke coming out of the back of the house and then that’s when I took off, went in the house and got my little one and then yelled for my wife and then gave my little one to my wife and then went and got my oldest and went outside,” Hughes said.
Within minutes, Hughes said the kitchen was engulfed in flames, and then the fire quickly spread to the rest of the house. They were fortunate to get out quickly and safely, but they had no time to grab anything. “We had the clothes on our back. That was it.”
It didn’t take long before the community heard about the fire and stepped up to help the family, although they didn’t ask for it.
“I didn’t ask for anything. I’m too proud to ask for that. I really didn’t want to take it, but we needed it,” Hughes said.
Hughes said people in Union County and Knox County donated money, clothes and other items. His daughters’ school, Gibbs Elementary, got his family gift cards. The cross country and youth soccer team also lined up to give them necessities that were destroyed.
“It’s definitely taken their mind off of things, cause all of their friends, I guess they didn’t realize how many friends they had in school. The first day they went back to school, they were, everybody was just hugging them,” Hughes said.
Several churches came out to help the family as well, including Mount Zion Baptist, Clear Springs Baptist and their home church.
Justin Pratt, senior preacher at Clear Springs Baptist Church, said God led them to help the Hughes family. They had just finished a series called ‘A safe place to be broken,’ which talked about what it means to be out in the community serving, showing people the love of God through action, not just words.
Just a day or so before the fire, Pratt said he concluded that series by announcing a brand new ministry called ‘Operation In As Much,’ based on Matthew 25:40. The message to his members came across loud and clear after they heard about the fire at Hughes’ home.
“Thursday I woke up to text messages of individuals at our church saying ‘hey God has given us an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus. There’s a local family in the community that has lost their home to a fire,'” Pratt said.
So, Pratt reached out to the Hughes family on Facebook, offering a helping hand, even though they don’t go to Clear Springs. He said the women’s ministry and their Hope Mission House were a big help in supplying some of what the Hughes family needed.
He said the church does good deeds in hopes to spread love, hope and show people that good is still out in the world. That’s exactly what Hughes learned after witnessing so many people help his family out.
“It was definitely a, definitely an eye-opening situation for the community being like that.,” Hughes said.
Hughes said he couldn’t possibly thank everyone personally, and that’s the only reason why he was willing to do an interview, because he and his family are truly grateful.
They have more clothes and toys than they had before the fire, and his girls are happen, given the circumstances.
“It took my wife three days to go through the initial donations. Just to see like what actually fit, or what we could actually use,” Hughes said.
Hughes was able to meet family he never knew was family, and learn that he lived in an amazing community.
Hughes is a veteran, so he has USAA for his home owner’s insurance. He even wanted to give them a shout out because they helped out tremendously as well. He said they were a lot easier to work with than expected in this situation.
Hughes said the next step now is to start rebuilding.” We’re looking to rebuild, or keep the property and go buy something else, but I honestly don’t want to move out of the Gibbs/Corryton community, so we may just end up rebuilding right here.”