Bryceville family loses home, 2 dogs in overnight fire

Grandchildren alert homeowners to blaze

By Allyson Henning - Reporter, Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter

BRYCEVILLE, Fla. - A family in Bryceville lost almost everything, including two of their dogs who died when flames tore through their home Monday morning.

Firefighters with Nassau County Fire Rescue responded about 4:30 a.m. to the home on Sunowa Springs Trail.

When they arrived, three-quarters of the two-story home was already damaged by the fire, according to Chief Brady Rigdon. Firefighters from the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department were also dispatched to assist with the blaze.

Bryceville home destroyed in fire

No one was injured in the fire, but firefighters said the home was destroyed and two of the family's four dogs did not survive.

Homeowner J.W. Highsmith told News4Jax that his two grandchildren woke him and his wife up to tell them the front porch was on fire. 

"I said, 'Everybody get out of the house.' And we all went out the back door and the whole front porch was already engulfed," Highsmith said. "I just couldn't believe it."

A chimney and charred bits and pieces of the home were all that was left standing. Family members and other loved ones spent much of the afternoon searching through the burned rubble.

"We were lucky enough so far to find some photos, photo albums and things like that, but there's not much that is left," said Charity Barber, the homeowners' daughter. "It's a disaster."

Barber said her parents had lived in the home for several decades and built it from the ground up. She said she's thankful the grandchildren helped get her parents out safely.

"It could have been a different situation," she said. 

The State Fire Marshall is investigating the cause of the fire.

In the meantime, the community is coming together to help the family with clothes, gift cards and other donations. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help raise money for the family.

Anyone interested in dropping off donations can contact Andrea Garner by calling 904-266-0334, texting 904-738-3734 or emailing

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