Community delivers Christmas after devastating fires

HINTON, WV (WOAY) – Two fires devastated two families in the past week, leaving barely any time for the families to recover before the holiday. Thanks to caring neighbors, the families will still have a Christmas.

“I lot of people called me, so I knew the house was on fire, but I didn’t know how bad it was,” said Chassity Smith.

Smith and her kids weren’t home at the time of the fire. When she came back, the front of her house was in flames.

“Honestly, all I could think of was the dogs. I just knew they were trapped and they were upstairs.”

Luckily, the dogs were safe upstairs; although they were scared and coughing from the fire, they were alive.

While her home suffered some damage another family in the community and lost their entire home. Just a few miles away, the Weikle family lost everything.

“My husband was out first and he got the kids out,” said Heather Weikle. “I came out last. Then, I called 911. It didn’t look that bad, but by the time I hung up with 911 after telling them where I lived and everything, I turned around and it just seemed like the whole entire house was on fire at that point.”

The house was a complete loss, with nothing but ash and twisted metal left behind– but these families’ stories weren’t over.

“This community has really surprised me,” said Weikle. “They have really come together. They ask me every single day: ‘what do you still need?’ They gave us food, they gave us clothes, they gave us furniture.”

Already, the families have gifts to give their kids on Christmas morning, clothes to wear and school supplies for next year.

“Other people have reached out to make sure that Christmas for mine and their children is still a go. You don’t think of how many people actually care until something like this happens.”

Smith says many people have offered supplies and labor to help salvage her home. Meanwhile, Weikle is thankful for the donations coming in that will help her family get back on their feet. You can donate to the family’s GoFundMe here.

Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.