Friends aim to help woman who lost everything in house fire

Woman, 67, has a new home, but nothing to fill it

By Ashley Harding - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A woman injured in a house fire in Regency last week remains at a hospital in Gainesville — and her friends are working to get her home ready for her return.

Barbara Kersey, 67, continues to recover after she was saved from her burning home on Eaton Avenue by 16-year-old Cody Williams.

Kersey's boyfriend, Layton Anderson, was at work at the time of the fire. He has bought a new home, but the couple lost all their belongings.

"They completely lost everything," said Rhonda Strickland, who is friends with Kersey and Anderson.

Strickland said it's hard to talk about the day of the fire.

"This is very emotional," Strickland said. "This is a couple who stepped in and helped my family during deaths and trauma. And as close friends as we are, we're all considered family members."

Kersey and Anderson have been together 14 years.

As Kersey continues to recover, Anderson has saved his money and has acquired a new home.

"He's got lights, and he's sleeping on a sleeping bag with a pillow," Kersey said. "He has nothing. She has nothing."

Strickland said the new home has no furniture and is not yet fit for Kersey when she returns home. Strickland, along with other friends and family, are in the process of setting up a fund to help the couple. Their end goal is for Kersey to have a place fit for the remainder of her recovery.

"We're focused on reaching out to help them the best way we know how," Strickland said. "And this was the only way."

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