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June 2012
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Family still coping with effects of holiday blaze

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

The holiday season was filled with pain and heartache for one Marshall County family as a grandmother lost her home and four canine companions in a Christmas night blaze.

The fire began about 9 p.m. Dec. 25 at a mobile home at 355 Hill Estate Lane, in the Sharpe Community of Marshall County. The flames that began in the front room quickly spread, eventually engulfing the entire residence, according to Fire Chief Rick Pershing of Possum Trot-Sharpe.

He said when his department along with Palma-Briensburg arrived on scene more than two-thirds of the mobile home was on fire. Crews remained until about 1 a.m. the next morning when the mobile home was deemed a total loss. Resident Mary Bailey, 74, was able to escape the home and was rescued by neighbors Adam and Jessica Dublin, who then called 911. Her four dogs ranging in ages from five to 16 years, named Reba, Cinnamon, Sparky and Shiloh, died in the blaze.

Mary Bailey voiced the pain associated with losing her home, her beloved pets and the source of her independent lifestyle.

"It's something I never want to go through again," she said. "I just don't know how to start over after I've lost everything and nearly everybody. I just want a home to go back to."

Daughter Tammy Bailey of Benton said the significance of the loss of her mother's furry companions cannot be overstated.

"Losing her dogs was just a crushing blow ... they were like her children," she said.

Bailey said her mother has developed inhalation pneumonia as a result of the smoke. The fire report stated the cause as a malfunction of Mary Bailey's oxygen concentrator. The machine was engulfed in flames, the fire then spread to the home's tubbing system before she could reach the extinguisher. Once the fire spread to the couch, Bailey fled her domicile to the front porch.

Although the family has considered a lawsuit against the manufacturer, due to the age of the mobile home, which is more than 30 years old, they decided the legal expense wouldn't be feasible. The family also didn't have insurance on the trailer and haven't been able to clear the lot due to financial concerns. Mary Bailey is currently living with her daughter and husband Michael Bass just two doors down from the lot of her mobile home.

"She wants to stay close to her family but without help that will be impossible," Tammy Bailey said. "My mother has had so many losses in the last few years, she shouldn't have to start from scratch at age 74."

The Lakeland Area Red Cross provided Mary Bailey with $150 toward food and clothing expenses. But with nearly every one of her possessions destroyed that money has just been a small dip in a large barrel of need.

Other than monetary concerns, the family also lost many treasured heirlooms including portraits, military certifications, flags, pictures and other symbols of a life more than seven generations old.

But Tammy Bailey and her family are focused on finding the silver lining amid a difficult situation, including her mother's escape from significant injury, an autoharp and the family bible found weeks later that miraculously survived the flames.

"There are some things throughout this ordeal that have truly been miracles," she said.

The family is asking for any monetary donations and anyone willing to donate their time to help clear the debris from the lot. Donations are being accepted at all Paducah Bank locations under the name Mary Bailey fund or those willing to help are asked to contact Tammy Bailey at 270-898-2761 or 270-217-9267.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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