BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — An East Tennessee veteran who helps military families during a time of loss is now facing a loss of her own.

Jack and Nancy McEntee lost their home in Blount County on Oct. 14 when they say an electrical issue started a fire. Jack is an Air Force veteran. Nancy is a Vietnam War veteran who volunteers with Operation Honor Guard – a program that provides Honor Guards for military funerals at no charge to the veteran’s family. Nancy may also be a familiar face to those who frequently visit Cades Cove, where she also volunteers.

The couple told WATE 6 how the fire tore through their home, burning down half the house and leaving the rest with major smoke and water damage.

“It [the fire] destroyed the garage, and it moved through the garage through half
of the house, through the attic,” Jack said.

“He [Jack] got up to see what was going on and I went back to read, and I heard some wonderful neighbors — can I give them a plug? Kayla and Kyle Perkins… they are awesome,” Nancy said. “He was banging on the door saying ‘get out, your house is on fire.’ I stepped outside and saw that the roof was on fire right behind me.”

The home is a total loss. It is insured, but due to a backlog of homes damaged during Hurricane Ian, they’ve been told the wait will take longer than expected. Both are retired and living on a fixed income.

The couple say they are overwhelmed by the support from the community. A fund has been established by their adult children to help the couple rebuild.

“By the grace of God everyone including the cat survived,” said Joel Hall on GoFundme page.

More from WATE 6 Kristen Gallant

Nancy and Jack say that prayer is just as welcome as donations.