Mom in fire: 'It was chasing us out of the house'

Family of 4 in Lawtey displaced by fire; 2 other relatives also escaped

LAWTEY, Fla. – A Lawtey family is left with nothing after its mobile home went up in flames early Thursday morning.

The Bradford County Sheriff's Office said the fire broke out at 2:50 a.m. at a mobile home on Northeast 14th Avenue, just east of U.S. 301.

A family of four, including two children, lived in the home and a relative and her child were visiting. The six family members woke up to the smell of smoke.

"I thought I was dreaming," said Sherri Mitchell, 38. "Then I got trapped in the bathroom. Smoke was coming (from) everywhere, so then I ran out of there and I started running through the house saying, 'Fire! Fire!'"

What seemed like a dream turned into a nightmare.


"It was burning like paper," Sherri Mitchell said. "I mean, it was going so fast, like it was chasing us out of the house."

It chased them out so fast that two of the family members didn't have time to grab shoes, and now they have none.

"I looked and I saw the room. It was engulfed in flames and smoke was everywhere, so being the man, (I was) trying to extinguish it the best I could, but it wasn't -- it couldn't be done," Joseph Mitchell said.

The family, including the three children, was able to escape the home.

Sherri Mitchell was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation but is thankfully OK.

Firefighters from the Bradford County Emergency Management Unit were able to put the fire out, but the home was so badly damaged, the family will not be able to continue to live there.

The state fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

"We feel bad they've been displaced, and our fire crews last night did all they pretty much could do with what they had to work with," Bradford County Fire Chief Benjamin Bennett said.

The Mitchells' car was also damaged by the fire, so they literally lost everything they owned.

The Red Cross is assisting the family for four days, but after that the Mitchells don't know what they will do.

"We would like any donations: shoes, clothes, anything. We need it right now," one of the children said. 

Donations for the family can be dropped off at the Bradford County Sheriff's Office front lobby.

Here are the family members' clothing sizes:

  • Men's 38x30 pants, size 11 shoes, XXL shirts.
  • Women's 12-14 pants, size 10.5 shoes, L shirts.
  • Women's 15 pants, size 9 shoes, L shirts
  • Girl teen 14-16 pants, size 7 shoes, L shirts
  • Girl teen 12014 pants, size 6 shoes, L shirts
  • Boys 6T pants, kids size 6 shoes, 6T shirts

Money for the family can be donated at Capital City Bank in Starke under the name "Sherry L. Mitchell Family Trust" or mailed to 704 N. Lake St., Starke, FL, 32091.

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