Knoxville business owner described by community as a ‘giver’ loses everything in house fire


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Melissa Kirby is described by her family and friends as always giving to others, now she is the one in need.

On November 30, Rural Metro Fire department responded to a call of a house fire in Mascot, TN around 4 p.m. The house belonged to Melissa Kirby. She had been living there for the last 10 years.

No one was home during the fire. Melissa was at work in Knoxville at the time. She owns Alice’s Diner on Broadway.

“By the time I got home, it was fully engulfed in flames. My pets were still inside. They couldn’t get to them. It pretty much was a total loss,” Kirby said.

All of her possessions, including sentimental items, and Christmas gifts for her kids are now gone. She also lost three pets. Her diner is all she has left.

Melissa’s family says she has always had a giving heart. Over the years, she has taken in and raised 10 children as her own, and just last week, Melissa cooked a large meal to distribute to those experiencing homelessness.

“It was just instilled as a young kid. When you get things given to you, you always give back,” Kirby said.

Now, she’s the one in need of help. Her only wish is that her kids have a place to stay for Christmas.

“I have a son that’s away at boot camp. He’ll be home for Christmas on the 17th and I would like for him to have a place to come to,” Kirby said.

Already, the community is coming to Melissa’s aid. Friends and customers have been stopping by the diner to drop off money and clothing.

Right now, Kirby is staying with a family friend. She says she hopes to get back to work in her diner on Thursday.

“I can honestly say besides my family and my friends, this is all I got now. So I’ll put every bit of time I can into it and just try to keep my mind busy,” Kirby said.

If you would like to help Melissa and her family, below is a list of clothing and sizes needed:

  • Women’s L or XL 
  • Women’s pants 10 or large
  • Shoes women 9
  • Men’s 3X or 4X
  • Mens pants 44×32
  • Men’s shoes 13
  • Kids boy 6/7
  • Boy shoes 13
  • Girl teen Small or 0 pants 
  • Girl teen medium shirts
  • Shoes 6
  • Mens 32/32 or Large pants 
  • Men’s shirt large 
  • Shoe men’s 9 

Family and friends have also started a GoFundMe for Melissa. Donations can be made here.

The cause of the fire is under is currently under investigation. No injuries were reported. 

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