News 12 First at Five / Monday, Nov. 5, 2012
MARTINEZ, Ga. -- A community is coming together to help a family in need. The Martinez-Columbia Fire Department is accepting donations for a fellow firefighter whose home was gutted by flames last week.
Not only is the home a complete loss, but the firefighter's mother-in-law died after firefighters pulled her from the burning home. Now, his co-workers are asking for your help.
Harold Lewis retired 10 years ago from the Martinez-Columbia Fire Department. On Monday, he was at the fire department to help a fellow brother he's known for 30 years.
"He's a member of the fire department, and I always support the fire department. Everything they do, I'm a part of," Lewis said.
Firefighter and Chaplain Richard Thigpen watched his home go up in flames last week.
"I lost everything. I lost everything," he said. "I've been on the other side many times, but when I pulled up to my yard and saw what I saw ... it hit home, and I was just to the point, what do I do? Where do I go? What's going to happen?"
Not only did Thigpen lose his home and everything in it, but he also lost his 79-year-old mother-in-law Agatha Murphy.
"You never think about it happening to your own people; when it does, it hits hard," Lewis said.
"A lot of times you can walk away from a fire scene and not see the emotion from the family, but when there's a firefighter involved, you're there with them the whole time," explained Martinez-Columbia Fire Special Operations Chief Danny Chief Danny Kuhlmann.
And that family unit is working to help their friend and brother in need. They've set up a "burned out box" to help with cash and gift card donations for the Thigpen family.
"Toothpaste, underwear ... I mean all these little things that you take for granted every day, this money will help them take care of things like that," Kuhlmann said.
Things they need as they begin to heal and rebuild.
"I've always been there for others; it's hard to let people do for me. There's people that want to help you and sometimes you've just got to give in and let them help you," Thigpen said.
"He's a fireman and you're a fireman, and you just never think about it happening to you, it's always the other guy," Lewis said.
If you would like to help the Thigpen family, you can stop by the fire department headquarters at 3910 Desoto Drive in Martinez. The State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the fire and still working to determine a cause.