Half a million residential fires occur annually in the U.S. according to PM Engineering magazine. Approximately 93 percent of Red Cross disaster responses are house fires. No one ever thinks it will happen to them.

On July 3, Dennis and Loretta Simons, of Bangs, became a part of those statistics. They were called that morning with news that their home was on fire.

It was determined that the fire began in youngest son Matt’s room. They believe it was the stereo and faulty wiring in the house.

The shock was intense for the family when they heard the news.

“At first I couldn’t understand why it was burning,” Loretta Simons said. “I had not left anything on, and I was just in shock.”

No one was at home when the house caught on fire.

“I was worried about the family,” Dennis Simons said, “until I found out everyone, including the dogs, were alright.”

The family was uplifted by the community and their local church, First Baptist Bangs, from the very start.

“People from the church, and also from the community, just kept pouring in,” Loretta said. ”They were giving us hugs and support. I never really felt despair because we were being lifted up by everyone around us. I don’t know what we would have done without that support.”

The house is a total loss; very little was salvageable. The family was able to get a few trinkets, photos, important papers, a video camera and the washer and dryer out of the rubble. Everything in Matt’s room was lost.

“We got all the important things, ourselves and pets, “Dennis said.

The Simons have been living in the First Baptist Church parsonage since the week after the fire. The insurance will not rebuild their house, but it will be enough to pay off the house and get them into another one. They have found another house located in Bangs.

“There has been such an outpouring of love and support from the church, the community and surrounding area.” Loretta said. “Strangers have even come up to us saying they heard about the fire and they want to help.”

The Simons were quick to say that they have learned much from God and community in the past few weeks.

“God has shown us how important it is to be involved in your church and community,” Loretta said. “Seeing God’s love through these people with everyone giving and giving and giving. God is shown through everyone in our church. It has been a mind-boggling thing. We have just been awed because of all the people who have been willing to give.”

The family says it has received many blessings from the church and surrounding community, and want sincerely thank everyone for helping during their time of need.

“I’m just amazed at the love shown us,” Loretta said. “God is helping us have a better outlook on life and our priorities, what is really important. We are also learning about helping others more. Thank you! ”

Tricia Evans is a senior at Bangs High School and assistant editor and photographer for the school newspaper.