Sharon Tate of Searcy was headed to Pangburn on Monday to paint faces at the city’s Fourth of July celebration. She was just thankful that her paints had been spared from a fire at her home Thursday because they were safe in her vehicle.
Tate said she was taking a nap around 5:50 p.m. Thursday at her residence on Pecan Street. Meanwhile, her husband, Larry, was “sitting in a chair watching news.”
He said their neighbor came over “beat on the door and woke her [his wife] up. I got up and she said, ‘Your house is on fire.’” Sharon said the neighbor told them, “Get out now!”
Larry went outside and was going to grab the back water hose. Sharon said she “grabbed my purse and I grabbed my phone and I went out to get the van.” She said a person whom she thinks was a firefighter asked her if she had the keys to the Corvette. “So I ran back in and I grabbed the key to the ‘vette and I grabbed his [her husband’s] phone and I threw the ‘vette key to the other guy. He caught it and I backed out [in the van].”
She said the other person wasn’t able to get the Corvette started “and the next thing I know, a bunch of men were pushing it out, and then a whole bunch of men were pushing the truck out and I don’t even know if they had a key.”
Sharon, who said they have lived in their house since 1987, and Larry said they weren’t really sure how or where the fire started. “It’s around back,” Larry said. “But we don’t know what happened,” Sharon added. Larry Tate said, “We’re not speculating on anything.”
Sharon said “the fence was burnt on both sides” and the house next door on Park Avenue also was affected by the fire. Embers from the fire even blew across the street, where a rotting stump caught on fire, they said.
The roof of their house that was all red from being new is now all black after the fire. “That roof probably ain’t five months old,” a relative said. The fire even melted through their bathtub.
The Tates said they lost a lot of things, but Auto-Owners Insurance has been really good to them. “They jumped on it; they’re taking care of us,” Sharon said. She said she and her husband will be staying with their son.
The neighboring house was the home of Tasha Abrams’ father. She and her husband, Robert, live in the house next door to it. “My dad just passed in February so he left us this home,” Tasha said. “My uncle and my brother are still living in here.”
Tasha said she witnessed the fire, “the whole thing.”
“I saw smoke and I thought they [the neighbors] were cooking something or grilling something,” she said. “The smoke turned to like something was burning, like paper smoking, then I saw a flame and when I saw that I realized that the back of that [property] was burning.”
She said she immediately told her husband, uncle and brother, who were on the porch, “Their house is on fire, something’s on fire.” She said they jumped up, “run around and I hear them scream, ‘Oh!’”
Robert said the fire started under a metal canopy area and they tried to grab a water hose on their side and spray over near the metal canopy that had blue tarps on it.
“The blue tarps were melting and the flames were coming through the fence,” Robert said. “We grabbed a spigot over here and we were spraying this because it was coming through the grates of this fence.
“We were spraying at it but there just wasn’t enough pressure on the hose, and this had a roof on it and jumped onto this roof. Something popped over here. It might have been paint or cleaning products, who knows. Within 60 seconds of starting to spray, it [the fire] jumped onto this roof here and it kind of rolled under the roof.”
The Abrams’ house was not affected by the fire; however, her father’s house “was her childhood home,” Robert said.
“Thankfully, we had just gone through his and my mom’s belongings and they were sitting there in one room and that one room is OK,” Tasha said. She said they lost some pictures but some were also saved.
“It’s kind of hard when you lose two parents and the house with it,” Tasha said.
Searcy Fire Department Capt. Jo-Pat Black said the fire is still under investigation, but “as best we can tell, the origin is going to be between the two houses and so it spread from there. The wind that day kicked up a little bit. The outside area was pretty well involved.”
Black said up to 30 firefighters were on the scene. “We got the call at approximately 5:40 [p.m.] and we were back in service about 8, 8:15.”
“Fires are hard to predict. It just seems like they come in spurts,” he said. “We’ve had a few grass fires already this summer and things like that. During summertime, they [the fires] are more fatiguing for sure.”