Henrico fire victims speak out

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Fire took many of their precious mementos, but not the most precious thing of all - each other. That's the reaction Monday from an elderly couple after a fire at their Henrico home two weeks ago.

A heroic neighbor pulled the wife to safety and now the couple said they're just happy to be alive.

Flames may have damaged their home, but not their spirit. Inside the Truesdale's home are pictures and other mementos that were destroyed in the fire, but if you talk to the Truesdale's, they say they're just fortunate to be alive.

"All my pretty crafts got burned and everything," said fire survivor Bernice Truesdale. "So much stuff."

She may have lost many belongings but she still considers herself lucky after a neighbor pulled her out of a window and to safety.

"He just lift me up like a little child and carried me all the way over to his house," she said.

Her husband Bert also got out, but losing his home made a bad year even worse.

"I had a heart attack and a stroke," he said. "I was trying to get over that and then this happened."

The heat from the fire was so intense, Bert suffered second and third degree burns on his shoulders and on his head.

"I was on fire," he said. "My skin was on fire."

He remembers trying to find his wife of nearly fifty years through heavy smoke and flames.

"I was so scared something happened to my wife," he said. "I can't live without her."

For now the Truesdale's are living with their niece Nicole Burton. Nicole grew up in this home and says many family treasures were inside. While it's heartbreaking to think about those priceless items lost forever, she says she's grateful her aunt and uncle are still alive.

"It's such a blessing they got out," Burton said. "My Facebook posting that morning is 'today is a blessed day' and it really was a blessed day. The fire, the house burned down, in the hospital but Aunt Bernice is fine and Uncle Bert is recovering."

"With the fire and everything, I'm just grateful we got out alive," Bernice said. "That was the most important thing."

Contractors just started working on the home so the Truesdale's don't know exactly when they'll be able to move back into their house.

The fire was determined to be electrical and the house is still currently condemned. Neighbors tell us there was a working smoke detector inside the home the day of the fire.

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