Family of 7 homeless after fire on Longfield Avenue


by Gene Kang

Posted on July 18, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 18 at 5:14 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- An early morning fire consumed a woman’s house located near the Backside of Churchill Downs.

Jessica Smith, a mother of five children, lost everything in the fire that took just six minutes to contain.

"I ran out of the front of the house to try to grab the water hose. The nozzle wasn't on the water hose so we couldn't put it out,” Smith said.

Smith says her boyfriend woke her as a fire consumed their living room.

Smoke filled the air, startling next door neighbor Paul Sowders around 5 a.m. Thursday.

"My neighbor came by and knocked on the windows and said the house is on fire and we jumped up," Smith said.

Charles Hawkins, Louisville Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief, said: "We had a line off that came through the back door and was able to extinguish the fire in about six minutes and had control."

Within that time, firefighters said Smith's house sustained heavy fire and smoke damage, a total loss.

WHAS 11 asked Smith: "What caused the fire?"
Smith: "We had a candle lit and the cat knocked it off the table onto the ottoman and it caught the ottoman and the bed on fire."

Firefighters gutted the house at 5th Street and Longfield Avenue.

Smith said: "Yes it's hard. I don't want to watch it. (crying)"

Smith and her five children lived at the house for eight months and said they lost irreplaceable items.

"All my pictures of my kids growing up, everything from them at the hospital, everything," Smith said.

Smith was held in the back of a cruiser for hours where she was questioned by arson investigators.

"I thought I was going to jail. I was scared," Smith said.

She said aggravation and frustration set in with an overwhelming sense of loss.

"I know it's their job but it was upsetting for it to happen right afterwards when I was trying to come to terms with what happened," Smith said.

She was cleared of any wrongdoing and can now begin  healing, finding food, clothing and shelter with help from the Red Cross.

Firefighters have not released the exact cause of this fire yet.