Family finds hope after devastating house fire, community comes together

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ELLETTSVILLE, Ind. -- An Ellettsville pastor and his family lost everything in a fire on Wednesday evening. Fire investigators with Bean Blossom Township Fire say they received the call around 5:30 p.m.

“We left yesterday afternoon around 4:30 everything was normal, everything was fine...about an hour later my brother called and said you need to get home your house is on fire,” said Family Life Church Pastor, Richard Whiteman.

Whiteman says he was stunned when he got the call. He and his wife Sherry were at his son’s home visiting his grandson with.

"This is where we raised our three boys, this was our home. we’ve been here since 98 I think, so we’ve been here a long time,” said Whiteman.

It’s a place they’ve called home for more than two decades. Unfortunately, that came to an end on Wednesday.

“I kind of came up in the yard and felt really sick to my stomach. My wife was crying obviously,” said Whiteman.

When he arrived, there was a total of nine firefighters from Bean Blossom Township and Ellettsville Fire Department, they were called for backup. Fire officials say they battled the intense flames for nearly 30 minutes before it was under control. Nearly 24 hours later, their home is still smoldering.

“They definitely gave it a good effort and tried and tried to do what they could. But as you can see there’s just nothing left,” said Whiteman.

They lost everything, their clothes, personal belongings, a new car and childhood memories that are forever etched into their minds.

"Our vehicles are gone, our house is gone, and it’s kind of a realization that all you have in that moment in time are the clothes on your body and the vehicle you’re in that was all we had left," said Whiteman.

Now their tight-knit community is coming together, ready and willing to help this pastor and his family. His children have already set up a Go Fund Me to help them get back on their feet.

“We’ve had so many calls and texts. People reaching out to us and what can we do to help, what can we do to help,” said Whiteman.

But just on the other side of the porch remains a small charred symbol of hope that can help heal and rebuild.

“All this is kind of devastating right now we know there is always a future to hope with the lord and he’s going to take care of us and making it better than it was. You just have to trust and believe and know that it will get better,” said Whiteman.

Fire investigators ruled the fire as accidental.

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