Family Loses Home in Fire But Keeps Positive Outlook

February 6, 2006 -- Posted at 4:49 p.m. CST


NEWPORT, AR -- Heroic efforts from a child help save the lives of his family when their home goes up in flames.    


Machelle Whitworth’s rented home caught fire on Thursday of last week.  The fast moving fire destroyed just about everything, but left the spirits of the family still intact.


12-year-old Zachary Long is the oldest child, and he was fundamental in helping save his little brother and sisters.


“A fire started in our closet and it spread down the hallway back into the... it just spread real quickly,” said Zachary Long.


Long is a hero to his family.  His courage in helping take charge when the fire was ablaze is unheard of in someone his age.  He risked his life to save the life of his five year old disabled sister.


“I threw down the bucket in the kitchen, went back there and grabbed her, and then ran back to the living room,” said Long.


Machelle Whitworth said she was shocked by how quickly the fire tore through their home.


“It didn’t take but maybe three to five minutes for the house to be up in flames,” said Whitworth.


Zachary Long isn't the only hero in this family.  His 7-year-old little sister is a hero too.


“My little sister, she grabbed my one year old little sister and my little brother grabbed his boots,” said Long.


Meanwhile, Whitworth tried to make sure all of her children were accounted for.


“I went and made sure we had all the kids in the living room and then we started out the door,” said Whitworth.


Their home, their possessions, their van, and 5 year old Sabrina's wheelchair were all lost in the fire; but the spirits of the family remain high.


“My kids and my life is the biggest things.  I wasn't worried about the material things so much,” said Whitworth.


Fire officials have salvaged a few material possessions, but those aren't the things that mean most to this family.


“The toys and stuff and stereos and everything that we had in there can be replaced with money and stuff; but the souls and lives that were in that house couldn't have,” said Long.


Machelle Whitworth says she doesn’t know where she and her family will go from here, but she is grateful for all the help they're receiving.  


A fund is set up for the family at the Merchant and Planters Bank.


The fund is called "The Hero's Fund".


You can go to any branch of the Merchant and Planters Bank to make a donation.


You can also mail donations to the bank by mail.  Their address is:


Merchant and Planters Bank

c/o “The Hero’s Fund”

P.O. Box 650

Newport, AR 72112