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‘They’re lucky to be alive’: Letcher County fire leaves family with nothing, 8-year-old in Ohio burn center

Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 6:36 PM EST
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BLACKEY, Ky. (WYMT) - Paul Spears awoke Saturday morning to smoke filling his Letcher County home.

He quickly acted, waking up his girlfriend Kayla and telling her to make it to safety with her one-year-old child, who was also sleeping in their room. While she was working to escape, Paul made his way to the other bedroom where their eight and three-year-old daughters were asleep.

“And when he opened the door, the flames just came down,” said his cousin Keashia Dixon.

Paul made it to the girls who he eventually got out of the house- noting that the oldest was injured. When he got the girls to safety, he went around the house to help Kayla, who had managed to get the one-year-old out of the house through a window, but injured herself in the process and was unable to get out without Paul’s help.

Once the family was out of the house, Paul drove them to the hospital.

“When he got to the hospital, he didn’t have a shirt or anything on. Just pajama pants. And was screaming for help,” said Dixon.

Paul was sent to West Virginia for treatment while Kayla was treated at Pikeville Medical Center for her wounds. The two youngest children were cleared to go home by Hazard ARH and the oldest child was sent to a burn clinic in Cincinnati.

“They said a few more minutes and everything could have been different,” said Dixon.

She said the family is now just waiting for the oldest girl to push through.

“I get the call from my mom and she’s crying that morning. And I just reach over and grab my child and I just hold him just a little bit tighter. And I just can’t imagine looking and seeing your child and those injuries.”

She said it is impossible to imagine losing everything the way her cousin has, but she is thankful it was not worse.

“You just think about all these things that you just could never be prepared for,” she said. ”And they’re lucky to be alive because in the middle of the night most people don’t wake up.”

She is collecting monetary donations to help the family get back on its feet and other donations like clothing and more are being accepted at Summit City in Whitesburg.

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