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Community Rallies After Couple Loses Home in Fire

By Cameron Riser
hottytoddy.com intern

Earl Shaw and Bettye Herron watched the smoke rise from their longtime home and thought they had lost everything. Then they remembered they still had each other.

The Lafayette County residents survived the fire that destroyed their home Tuesday, July 10 and are now surviving the aftermath with the help of the Oxford and University of Mississippi communities.
Shaw and Herron have lived in their home on County Road 181 for nine years, along with their three teenage children, Earl Shaw Jr., Demarie’ and Alexia. Herron and her children were at home when the fire started in her bedroom. Shaw was at work at the Oxford School District.
Earl Shaw Jr. was the first to notice the flames.

Photo courtesy of Eliza Williams.

When Herron was alerted by her son, she searched around and found the flames coming from an electrical outlet where an air conditioning unit was plugged into the wall. She ran toward the unit hoping to push the AC out the window, but the fire erupted before she could reach it in time.
“It was an explosion,” Herron said. “I immediately grabbed my kids and we watched our house burn.”
Herron called the fire department and said it took them almost 20 minutes to arrive.
Photo courtesy of Eliza Willams.

“It took the fire department an hour to put out the flames,” Herron said. “They did what they could. They are out here in the 90-degree weather with layers of clothes on and I appreciate everything they did.”
The frame of their home is still intact, but walls will need to be knocked down. The remainder of the home is charred or melted.
Shortly after the fire, the tragedy spread via word of mouth and social media. The Kappa Delta Sorority at the University of Mississippi took action to help Herron, who currently serves as a cook in the house. 
Eliza Williams, a senior and future president of the KD sorority, set up a gofundme page and shared the link to Facebook. Within the first hour, the page raised $5,000. Williams increased the goal to $7,000, and it was met in the next two hours.
The link soon went beyond KD members and was being shared by the Oxford community. The crowdfunding effort raised almost $17,000 as of Tuesday, July 17.
“The communities’ response has been amazing,” Herron said. “I can’t thank everyone enough for the love and support.”
The hardest thing about this situation is being temporarily separated from her children, Herron said. They are staying with Mrs. Herron’s sister while she is at the Super 8 Motel.
Shaw and Herron are working to rebuild the house, but they are first connecting with contractors to figure out the cost of the damage.
Anyone interested in donating to the family can reach out to the Oxford School District Central Office or visit the gofundme page.

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