Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

March 17, 2014

Fire leaves family of 10 without home

By Janet Jacobs
CNHI

Corsicana — Last Wednesday around 4:30 a.m., an electrical fire destroyed a five-bedroom, two bathroom log cabin on FM 1839 near Emhouse, the home of Kevin and Ann Erwin and their eight children.

The family spent the first two nights in a hotel room paid for by the Red Cross, but since then has been staying with family friends on Third Avenue in Corsicana.

“Right now, we’re just trying to get the funds up to get them a house up there,” said Cecile Sapp, Ann’s granddaughter. “They had mortgage insurance, but no home insurance. It will pay off the mortgage, but they don’t have anything to buy a new house with.”

Family and friends have donated enormous bags of clothes and toys, but what the family needs is a home again, Sapp said.

“All the kids are back at school right now,” Sapp said. “They sent them back to school to get them back into the groove of something normal.”

Ann Erwin and her husband, Kevin, have adopted eight children, and Ann has four grown children. The eight that live with them now range from the age of 4 to 18, and began as foster kids, but were later adopted by the Erwins. Two of the boys are biological brothers, while four others are biological siblings, as well.

Ann said she wasn’t sure what time the fire broke out, only that it started when they lost power early Wednesday.

“I said ‘Kevin, get up the electricity went out, go check the breaker,’” Ann recalled. “Josie was screaming in the dining room saying ‘Mama, Mama, the door’s on fire,’ and I said ‘No, it’s not,’ and she went into hysterics, and then our 6-year-old son Joshua started screaming. We went into the living room and the whole back of the house was flaming. We grabbed the keys, billfold and out the door we all ran.”

Because they didn’t have cell phones, Ann ran to the neighbor’s house to call 911, and it was about that time that they realized the youngest child, 4-year-old Mattie, was missing. Kevin was able to get her to come to the door of the burning building by following his voice.

“We almost lost her,” Ann said, her voice breaking.

Although the family lost everything — clothes, books, photos, and their puppy — she realizes they’re lucky to have all gotten out alive and well.

“Matt’s fine, running around like nothing happened. We’re staying at a friend’s house on Third until we figure out what we can do.”

Ann took early retirement, and Kevin was laid off from his job. They have a little supplemental money coming from veteran’s benefits and Social Security, which helps, but they live month to month.

“You never think it’s going to happen to you,” she said. “It’s surreal. I’m waiting for someone to wake me up.”

The family fled their blazing house in pajamas and underwear. The Red Cross gave the children some sweat suits and money to buy the children shoes.

“Everyone’s been awesome in sending clothes and toys, but I just don’t know what we’re going to do for living in,” Ann said.

Sapp has set up a donation fund at GoFundme.com/7jigkk for her grandparents.