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Owner of burned house: ‘I have nowhere to go home to’

Sept. 4 was not a very good day for Jon Hutcherson.

The forklift operator for Rex Lumber thought he was getting good news from his doctor when he told him he was going to be scheduled to undergo back surgery to alleviate the problems he was having.

Then came the bad news. He would be out of work a few months to recuperate.

And then it got worse. His house was burning.

“I found out the house was on fire as the doctors were telling me that I’ll be out of work for two or three months. The drive home was just like a blur,” he said. “I have nowhere to go home to after the surgery. I don’t have a home.”

Hutcherson and his wife, Darlene, have lived in their two-story, wood-frame house at the end of Old Malcum Road for about six years.

Lincoln County Fire Coordinator Clifford Galey said the fire started about 11 a.m. that day while the Hutchersons were in Jackson, both having MRIs done. Firefighters from Heucks Retreat, East Lincoln and Hog Chain volunteer fire departments responded with assistance from Lawrence County firefighters. They were at the address for about five hours.

Part of the home was left standing but it is unlivable, Galey said.

The Hutchersons lost everything but hope and each other.

“It’s under investigation but he (Galey) thinks it could be faulty wiring in the attic,” Hutcherson said.

The Red Cross and some folks from their home church, Nola Baptist, stepped in to help out. Besides Jon and Linda Hutcherson, there are Linda’s grandchildren they’re raising — Layla Woodall, a 14-year-old freshman at Brookhaven High School, and Marcus “Bubba” Brewer, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Alexander Jr. High, as well as a family friend who was staying with them while she recuperated from knee surgery.

They’re temporarily squeezed into a hotel room at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites until they can find a place to rent. That may not be too far away, he said.

They may soon sign a lease on a place near their burned home which will allow the children to continue riding their same bus to their respective schools. The family will also be close to their animals still on their property.

Hutcherson will go in for surgery Wednesday, while his wife has neck surgery scheduled Friday.

Hutcherson was shocked to see their home when they returned from Jackson.

“You come home and everything you’ve been working for and building up to is just gone. You walk in and you look and the living room suit is still sitting there but your upstairs is on top of it,” he said. “It’s devastating.”

As he picks through the burned rafters, he finds small odds and ends that can be cleaned up and kept.

“Clothes can be replaced. We needed a new bed anyway,” he said. “It’s the pictures, the little crafts and stuff the kids have made.”

One of the children’s relatives started a fundraising account for the family. It’s www.gofundme.com/ng7bt-house-fire-took-everything.

Jessica Helton, who created the page, said the Hutcherson family is dear to her own family.

“Darlene and Jon are two of the most heartfelt people that would lend a helping hand to anyone and has helped so many family, friends, and strangers over the years,” she wrote on the GoFundMe page. “Darlene has raised Layla and Marcus, two of her grandchildren, since they were infants. Layla is a very active, athletic teenager and her brother Marcus is entering the teen years as well. Let’s come together and help them in their time of need.”