Family struggles to rebuild home after fire
While a pristine blue sky and warm late winter sun shines down on a quiet Saturday morning, the charred remains of a burned out home offers a harsh and stark reminder of one family’s worst nightmare, the loss of their home.
The stench of smoke hangs heavy in the air. A thick film of ash and shattered glass litters the ground like gray snow.
For Shulerville resident Harry Nole, Feb. 4 is a day he will not soon forget.
Around 7 p.m. on that Monday evening, Nole was in his bedroom of his family’s home on Nole Road in rural northern Berkeley County when he smelled smoke.
“I was back here in the bedroom when I smelled something burning,” Nole said as he retraced his steps through the charred wreckage of his family’s homestead. “When I got to the living room the fire was already running up the wall and to the ceiling. The smoke was awful and the heat was unbearable. I tried to fight it but everything was burning and I couldn’t do anything with it so I got out through the front door.
“The fire was everywhere.”
A niece living next door called 911.
The fire, which Nole believes started in the chimney of the living room wood-burning stove, completely destroyed the home. Jamestown, Shulerville and Macedonia Rural Fire Departments responded.
Nole, who is disabled, said the fire spread too quickly for anyone to fight it. “When the fire departments got here the house was almost burned to the ground. I feel lucky I was able to get out alive.”
Jean Callum, Nole’s sister said her family’s longtime homestead was a total loss.
“We lost everything,” she said. “Nothing could be saved. We had no insurance.”
The single story brick home had been built by Callum’s late father Nathan Nole in the early 1980s.
“My father took such care and attention to building this home,” she said. “He laid each brick himself. Building this home was an act of love.”
Despite the carnage of the fire, Callum knows her family was blessed.
“It’s amazing that the fire didn’t spread to the trees in back,” she said. “And while the heat from the fire melted the siding on our niece’s house next door it did not catch fire.”
Callum is also thankful for her brother’s safety. “You can rebuild a home but you can’t replace a life,” she said.
The Callum and Nole families are reaching out to the community for help in rebuilding their home.
An account for donations has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank to help in the family’s efforts. Callum said anyone interested in making a donation can go to any Wells Fargo bank branch.
“There has been so much love shown by the community, our friends and our family,” she said.