Lone Survivor Of Deadly Fire Returns To The Scene

By: Dave Byknish Email
By: Dave Byknish Email

His name is Lewis Gordon Stokes. He came back to look for his wife's jewelry box.

Everyone had been asking how he was the only one that made it out alive.

"They want to know why I got out," said Stokes. "I just don't know what happened. I just don't know. I thought they were right behind me."

Stokes said when fire and rescue squads arrived, he was quickly put into an ambulance and taken to Augusta Health. It wasn't until his daughter told him shortly after 1 a.m. that his wife Wilda, son Charles, Daughter-in-Law Sharon, grandson Matthew, never made it out.

"I just couldn't take it," he said." "I was just so confused, I just started crying. We were real close."

The fire is believed to have started on the front porch. That's where nine-year-old Matthew spotted it. Stokes said he ran to get water from a nearby pump but the cold had frozen it shut.

He was only wearing a t-shirt and socks when rescue squads arrived.

"I didn't do anything," he said. "There was nothing I could do. They had already called 911. I think my wife did. I'm not swearing to it."

The remnants of a Christmas that will never come are still in the mobile home. Family from across the state arrived to help Stokes dig out anything that could be saved.

"All Matthew's Christmas presents he had bought everybody are still here, in that box," said cousin Megan Weaver. "That's how he was. He was kind and giving. He took his own money to buy everybody a Christmas present."

"It's just a bad time of the year for this to happen or ever happen," said Stokes' cousin, Harry Harris. "It's just sad."

As Stokes attempts to cope with the loss of his family he's faced with the immediate need to deal with his animals. He lost three dogs in the fire. Another dog tied up in the yard needs a home. So do 50 rabbits his wife usually took care of.

"I would turn them loose but I'm going to try to give some of them away before I turn them loose," said Stokes.

Stokes is also worried about where he's going to live. He told WHSV the only thing he can think of is putting a new mobile home in the same spot.

"I might just have to get a dozer come in here or somebody to take it off here. Just clean it up is the only thing I know to do."

For the time being Stokes will be staying with his daughter. She is collecting donations to help him move forward.

They can be sent to: Teresa Sprouse, PO BOX 1017, Stuarts Draft VA 24477.


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