The Hillsville community is already rallying to help a family that lost their home in a fire Tuesday night on Howlett Street.
The Hillsville Fire Department responded to a fire call Tuesday night at 8:59 p.m. on 141 Howlett Street. According to Hillsville Fire Department Assistant Chief Mike Musser, the fire involved a singlewide mobile home occupied by Alan and Paula Locklear. The couple has two children, but no one was home at the time of fire, Musser said. Neighbors saw the fire and reported it to 911.
“By that time the fire had already progressed to the point that it had broken through the windows and the roof. About one-third of the trailer was involved in heavy fire at the time we arrived,” Musser said. “Members of the Hillsville Police Department and Carroll EMS arrived at the scene prior to the fire department, and members of Hillsville Police Department received initial reports there were occupants still inside because nobody had seen them.”
At that point, Musser said Robbie Martin, Wesley Yonce and Billy Anauo of the Hillsville Police Department forced entry into the trailer to search for occupants.
“They forced entry into the trailer and they tried to look as best as they could, but the smoke and fire was so large they weren’t able to search the whole trailer. They initially found one deceased small dog inside,” Musser said. “They were assisted by members of Carroll Fire and Rescue.”
The Hillsville Fire Department was on scene within about three minutes, Musser said, and responded with about 30 personnel members. Firefighters were able to make an initial “knockdown” to bring the fire under control within a matter of minutes. Andy Utt and Keith Schlabach of Carroll Fire and Rescue were the first two firefighters to do a search of the trailer before fire crews were able to attack the fire, Musser said.
“When Andy and Keith first went in they were trying to find occupants. We generally don’t do it that way, but this was a desperate time that called for desperate measures,” Musser said. “Andy and Keith had the full protective gear, so they were completely geared up and went in and did a quick search. The fire was pretty intense. They couldn’t search the whole thing until the trucks got there with water. They did find two additional dogs in the house that had perished.”
The fire was confined to probably less than half of the trailer, Musser said, but because of heavy heat and smoke, the entire contents of the home were lost. Galax Fire Department was also automatically dispatched to the scene as part of a mutual aide agreement.
Musser said Paula Locklear’s mother came to the scene of the fire and informed rescue workers that the family was out of town for a doctor’s visit for one of their two children that has special medical needs.
In the wake of the fire, area churches are rallying to help the family. Jeff Pickett, pastor of Hillsville Pentecostal Holiness Church, said someone would be at the church today (March 19) from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. to accept clothing and household item donations. Pickett said he would also be at the church between 4:30 and 5 p.m. this afternoon and that anyone could drop anything off until services start tonight at 7 p.m. As far as sizes, Pickett said one of the family’s children wears a size 5 t-shirt and size 13.5 kids’ shoe. Another boy in the family wears 10-12 in clothing with a shoe size of 6. Pickett said the mother wears pants’ sizes 3 or 4, small to medium shirts, and her shoe size is 8.5 to 9. The father wears size 32/34 pants, extra-large shirts and 10.5 or 11 shoes.
“They have two children, one of them has lost a leg and they were getting help at a doctor’s appointment,” Pickett said. “They lost their dogs in the fire and it’s my understanding that they didn’t have insurance.”
Out of the Box Worship Center in Hillsville is also working to help the family. The church, located on 516 N. Main Street, is also accepting the same size clothes for the family as listed above. Additionally, the church will be accepting monetary donations for the family. Brenda Harmon said anyone wishing to make a donation can write a check to Out of the Box Worship Center, but be sure to put in the memo the check is for the Locklear family. Checks can be mailed to Out of the Box Worship Center, P.O. Box 1762, Hillsville, Va., 24343. The church can also make arrangements to pick up donations. Anyone wishing to inquire may call (276) 233-4150.