COLONIAL HEIGHTS, VA (WWBT) - A Colonial Heights man is picking up the pieces after losing almost everything he owns in a house fire last Friday.
During the high winds, George Fuselier and his roommate Tyrell lost power in the home they rented on Franklin Avenue. As night fell, Fuselier says they were cold and hungry and left to grab dinner with Fuselier's daughter. He left a candle burning so it would look like someone was home.
"I [always] bought candles that took hours and hours and hours to burn down," Fuselier explained. "I guess you can't be too careful with fire or any little thing. It's a hard way to learn a lesson."
As they were finishing their meal, Fuselier's roommate got a call from Fuselier's son, telling them the house was on fire. They all rushed back home to watch the firefighters from Colonial Heights, Hopewell and Petersburg battling the blaze.
"It was really, really bad. There were flames shooting up the top, the windows were blowing out," he said. "I just could not believe what the house looked like, what the yard looked like."
It took firefighters almost two hours to get the fire under control, fighting against the powerful windstorm Friday. They first went inside of the home, because neighbors were worried that Fuselier was home. His 9-year-old rescue cat Bella was inside and did not survive the fire.
"You're never prepared to see something like that," he explained.
Colonial Heights Fire Department ruled it accidental. The home is a total loss.
Fuselier is now working with his landlord and renter's insurance to figure out next steps, but he has been surprised to see loved ones, even strangers stepping in to help him.
"To hear from people I didn't even know means a lot," Fuselier said. "It's more than I imagined."
The 64-year-old suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, and is on dialysis, but he pushes through each day. He says church members, some of his doctors, the Red Cross, his children and siblings have just continued to be there for him. It brings Fuselier to tears, thinking about the generosity.
In less than a week, dozens of people have raised close to $1,500 to help pay the deductible for his renters insurance, medical support and living expenses.
Right now, Fuselier is living in a hotel, hoping to find a new place to rent and call home, grateful that he is not on the journey all by himself.
"The first day I thought, 'I don't know if I will get through this,' but I have no doubt I'll get through this," explained Fuselier.
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