Fire victim's family must clean home

Family cited by city, says it's trying to get rid of what's left inside

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Family members of a 61-year-old man who died in an arson fire last month say they feel like they're stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The say they didn't expect the fire to happen and certainly didn't deserve it, but now the city says all the debris in the Springfield home has got to go because it's dangerous.

"We're taking it piece by piece and it's taking a long time. We're trying to separate it," said Susie George, whose brother Cecil Hepler (pictured, below) died in the fire.

Friends and family have been working hard to get rid of the house that once stood there and wasn't insured at the time.

"It reminds me of Cecil," George said. "My brother lost his life over all of this, and you know, something it was uncalled for. It had nothing to do with him whatsoever. He was a good person."

Police say 52-year-old Jimmie Jackson Jr. was mad at Hepler's roommate and set the home on fire Sept. 8, killing Hepler.

Hepler's family is now dealing with his death and they have to get rid of what's left of the home because the city code enforcement says it's hazardous and needs to go.

"I sure can't afford to get fined for this and lose what I have got," George said.

There are companies that remove this kind of debris, but their estimates are in the thousands of dollars. After burying their loved one, it's money the family doesn't have right now.

"I didn't ask for none of this and my brother didn't ask for this," George said. "He didn't ask to lose his life over this."

Family, friends and neighbors are helping out, but with just a little trailer, no tools and very few places to take it all, it's like removing a mountain one rock at a time.

"I've lost my brother, I've lost my home, and now I'm asking everyone, anyone that can help us with this," George said. "I appreciate it. I really appreciate it."

The city of Jacksonville has cited George and her family, but so far, code enforcement has not fined them. A city spokeswoman said that's because the family is doing its best and trying to get rid of all the debris as quickly as possible.

"Currently, the owners of 1839 Spearing Street have been cited for a nuisance property, due to the rubble on the premises from demolition of a structure damaged by fire," the spokeswoman said in a statement. "There are currently no fines accruing as a result of the nuisance violation. An appointment has been scheduled with the property owner for an on-site inspection November 1st to evaluate the owner's progress."

If you have the resources and think you can help, email Channel 4's Vic Micolucci at and he'll get you in contact with the family.

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