Firefighters help rebuild victim's home

72-year-old beaten, robbed, home set on fire in April

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Some Jacksonville firefighters stepped in Thursday morning to help in rebuilding the home of a 72-year-old woman who was victimized earlier this year.

In April, Marti Williams was beaten and robbed, and her house was set on fire days later to cover the crime, according to police.

Williams has been staying at a nursing home while her home is restored.

"She actually has no children, she has no one, so that's another reason the Justice Coalition stepped up," coalition board member Larry Ward said. "She has no one at 72 years old. This is her house. She owns this house but didn't have insurance on it."

That's when the Justice Coalition reached out to the Jacksonville fire union, along with a nonprofit called Builders Care.

"They've got shovels, they got axes, they have hammers, they have crow bars," said Builders Care executive director Matt Wilford. "Really it's not going to take very long. The Fire Department stepped up. They have about 25 guys out here."

All of them worked off the clock, giving their time to help Williams so she can move back in.

Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters, said many of the firefighters are from Station 19 and initially responded to either Williams' rescue call or the fire itself.

"It's good for them to see a bad scene and then be able to come and help," Wyse said. "So a lot of times it's a good stress relief."

As far as the work being done, it's going to take some time until everything is safe and ready for Williams to live there again, but the work done Thursday morning is a start.

"They are a bunch of animals, so they'll get in there and tear this thing down in a couple hours and be good to go," Wyse said.

Builders Care hopes the home is ready by Aug. 8 so Williams can move back in.

Officers arrested Mitchel Rivera in connection with the crimes.

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