Benefit held for local victim of fire

BY JULIA RUDGERS, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG –The Fourth of July is a time for barbeques, family, patriotic remembrance, and of course, fireworks. Some of us simply look forward to a quiet and restful night in. This was the case for Diana Jackson and her husband. The south St. Petersburg residents who retired early for the evening took no notice of the night’s festivities.

All was well, until stray fireworks launched from a neighboring house landed on the Jackson’s wooden back porch.

The fire started between the hours of 11 p.m. and midnight, as later reported by the fire marshal. However, it was not until around 3 a.m. that Jackson and her husband were awakened by the shouts of neighbors and the sounds of the fire.

Trapped in a hazy state between sleep and distress, Jackson was utterly terrified. When she awoke, both the bedroom and the front room of the house were already aflame.

 “When I woke up, there was smoke and burning and popping. I had to feel my way to the front door,” Jackson said. Her husband managed to escape through the bedroom window with the assistance of next-door neighbor Ken Cichowski and other.

“I was out there with my garden hose after we got them out of the house,” he said stating that it took the fire department longer to arrive than they will admit. Cichowki’s house was also partially burned.

While Jackson and her husband were able to escape unscathed, the house and its contents were unsalvageable. Everything was lost in the fire, causing quite the predicament for Jackson, who is currently unemployed, and her husband who retired several years ago.

Although she was shaken by the experience, she has a large family of five grown children, made up of four daughters and one son. She also has 17 grandchildren and her husband for support.

Currently she and her husband reside temporarily in Pasadena with one of her daughters, where she is recovering as best she can. When asked to comment on how she has been coping, Jackson had this to say: “It’s been fine staying with my daughter, but it’s not the same as having your own place.”

Fortunately, it would seem that her support system is far larger that she originally thought. Last Sat., Oct. 24 a benefit was held for Jackson by Sherrie Price, a local business owner and missionary at All Nations Church.

It was held to help Jackson and her husband gather sufficient funds to purchase amenities, furniture, pay bills, and, of course, to find a new home.

They raise about $1,000, but so much more is needed. Since the Jacksons did not have renter’s insurance, they will have to start from scratch. Clothes, toiletries, appliances, bedding is all needed.

Having escaped with only the nightclothes they were wearing, the Jackson family would greatly appreciate any assistance. If you would like to donate to this cause, please contact Jackson directly at (727) 564-0679 or contact Price at (727) 786-3416 for additional information on this matter.

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