Elderly woman barely escapes fire, loses everything

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December 4, 2006

A house fire overnight destroyed an elderly woman's home. Tonight, she and her family are trying to figure out what to do now.

The fire broke out around 3 a.m. at a home off of West Floyd Avenue. That's right off of Wheeless Road in south Augusta.

45 years of memories went up in smoke, with 84-year-old Mary Hadden home alone inside.

Her family still can't believe she made it out alive.

An unbelievable blaze lit up the night sky.

"The flames were coming from back in the utility room and the window, and I thought, 'Oh my goodness, I got to get out of here,'" Mary recalled. "If I stayed in there five minutes longer I don't think I could have made it out."

As the ashes settled, the family's loss settled in as well.

"She's just lost everything," said Mary's daughter, Marilyn McDavid. "Now I can understand those people you see on TV who say they've lost everything. You know, I can understand, and I know how these people feel."

After a full day's work searching through the debris, only a few family photos scatter the lawn.

Inside, Mary's son pulled an antique clock from the rubble. But not much else can be saved from the house this family called home for 45 years.

"It's kind of devastating to come back to the place you used to live and it's not here anymore," Marilyn said. "It's kind of heartbreaking."

Also heartbreaking for this family is once again almost losing Mary. She's survived four heart surgeries and a car accident that almost killed her in January.

And now this.

"I just thank the Lord that he's saved me twice this year," Mary said.

But now she will need saving again, with shelter and food.

"I don't know what will happen now. I don't know where home will be. But I'm living, and I thank the Lord for that," Mary said.

The family is also thankful for all the help and the kindness of strangers.

"Thank God there's still people out there that care and want to lend a helping hand...thank God for that," Marilyn said.

It's help they will need as they keep the faith this holiday season.

"I told them they probably won't get much Christmas now. You'll just have me," Mary said.

Mary does have two kids and a sister. She'll be staying with family.

The Richmond County Fire Department has not released the cause of the blaze.

The Red Cross is taking donations for anyone who wants to help Mary Hadden.