MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A tragic fire has left a Morgantown community partner searching for permanent housing and the essentials for everyday life.
The home that Pantry Plus More Co-Founder Roark Sizemore shares with his mother, three sisters, a nephew, and two pets was lost and all their belongings destroyed in a Memorial Day weekend blaze in the Suncrest area of Morgantown.
Sizemore said he was sick and sleeping in the basement after a dose of cold medicine when the fire started. His mother and nephew had gone out, but returned to see smoke and went inside. Waking up to the screams of his mother, Sizemore was able to escape the blaze through a basement glass door.
“If they had stopped somewhere else or stopped to get groceries or something. I’m really unsure if I would have woken up in time or if I would have been in danger, so I’m really grateful that they were there in time,” Sizemore said.
Sizemore said the top floor of the home was destroyed and much of the bottom floor suffered water damage. For now the family is staying in an area hotel and there is an offer to stay at a local Airbnb if needed.
“It’s pretty much a total loss for the house,” Sizemore said. “The recommendation from other folks has been to just clear it away.”
Everything is lost, according to Sizemore. The bright spot is that the garage was being cleaned out, so the cars were parked outside. But one set of keys was in the home, the other set was in his mother’s purse, which was dropped and left behind in upper floor of the home as she called for Roark to get out of the home.
His nephew is a student at North Elementary School and was away visiting family when the blaze happened. Sizemore said he explained the loss to his nephew but wasn’t sure if he completely understood.
“He had a lot of stuff and things he had collected over time—art work and all the stuff that elementary kids have. I think that’s the real bummer, and that he lost his two pets.”
Sizemore said for now they are holding off on accepting donations of clothes and household items because their living arrangements remain unsettled. But he said it is clear they are starting with what they can salvage and some monetary donations.
“The most important thing was that none of the people got hurt,” Sizemore said. “We lost all things—pictures, clothes, all the creature comforts, work computers, school computers, and whatever it may be.”
In addition to a GoFundMe campaign, there is also a fundraiser at the Boston Beanery on June 20 from 4 to 8 p.m. According to a flyer about the event, 50% of all proceeds will go to the family and their recovery efforts.
“It’s going to be expensive to figure things out,” Sizemore said. “To clear away the land, figure out permanent housing, and replace a lot of the stuff,”