Family loses everything in Newport house fire

Newport Fire
(Source: Annette Westerfield Gansz's Facebook)
(Source: Annette Westerfield Gansz's Facebook)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) - Fire destroyed three homes in a matter of minutes early Saturday morning in the 600-block of Hazel Street in Newport.

Rabekah Dicky, a neighbor who lives down the street from where the fires happened, said it caught her by surprise.

"I woke up, and I noticed lights flaring in my window, and I was like, 'What the world!'" Dicky said.

According to the Newport Fire Department, the fire originally started inside a vacant house at 609 Hazel Street.

That house was between another vacant house at 611 Hazel Street and a home that was occupied by one family at the time at 605 Hazel Street.

From 1:30 until about 10 a.m., crews worked to extinguish flames that reached several feet in the air.

Rodney Simpson, a neighbor, said he was asleep when the Sapp family woke him up to get him out safely.

"I stepped out of the front door when I woke up and I felt the heat on my face," Simpson said. "Just saw the fire and went back out to get my dog and came out and stood across the street. That's really all you could do. It was too hot to do anything else."

Twenty-four Newport firefighters, with the help of 6 Jacksonport fire officials, knocked out the flames.

"Our guys done a great job in saving these other two houses," said Alan Gansz, Newport fire chief. "Their quick work and good work saved this house and that house down there."

The Sapp family lived in the home at 605 Hazel Street.

Within minutes, their house went from a home to ashes.

Doug and Susie Sapp said it started as just a regular night for their family.

After putting their three children to bed, Doug said he noticed something was a bit different when he went outside to check on their dogs.

"I smelled a real pungent smell of gasoline or kerosene, it was really strong," Doug Sapp said. "It actually burned your nostrils."

Not thinking anything of it, he let the dogs back in the house and went to bed.

Around 1 a.m., the dogs began to bark and that's when he realized the house next door was on fire.

"By the time he told me, I said 'are you kidding?' and he said, 'no look out the window,'" Susie Sapp said. "The wooden ledge was already hot, and then I started hearing the clink clink of breaking glass, then you started to see the sparks flying."

Those sparks turned into flames, and those flames turned into destruction.

The couple said their first instinct was to get the kids and all four dogs out of the house safely.

Even in the time of sorrow, they said they couldn't be more thankful for the love, support and several donations from their community and the American Red Cross.

They are still in shock over what happened, but they are trying to look on the bright side of things.

"I told Susie, 'Well, we didn't lose everything,'" Doug said. "The trash can is still standing there on the front sidewalk."

One thing the couple is very grateful for is that their kids are safe and that they can all live another day together.

"We are very fortunate," Susie said.

"We are grateful to God that we can make it through it," Doug said. "We'll be strong; we'll get through it. It's just going to take time and patience. Patience is the virtue."

The Sapps said think someone set this fire on purpose, but according to fire officials, it is still under investigation.

If you would like to help the Sapps get back on their feet, their loved ones have set up a GoFundMe account.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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