‘I knew everything was gone’ – Johnston County family loses home, 3 dogs to house fire

Johnston County News

KENLY, N.C. (WNCN) – A family’s three dogs are gone and their belongings are in ashes after a house fire Tuesday in Johnston County.

CBS 17’s Bridget Chapman spoke with the McDowell family at the site of their home that was turned into rubble in Kenly.

It hadn’t even been 24 hours since the fire.

“I haven’t been able to think a whole lot yet, I went to wash my hands with toothpaste this morning,” said Jessica McDowell.

The fire happened Tuesday morning.

“It was very quick and there were probably 22 firetrucks here,” said Jessica McDowell.

The couple both had just left for work.

Jessica McDowell had their 16-month-old daughter with her.

Within an hour, a neighbor called about the flames.

“My dogs were all in the house and that was my first immediate thought was how bad is it? Can we get them out?” she asked.

Their three dogs — 11 months old to 12 years old — didn’t survive.

Jessica McDowell said she knew it the second she saw the damage.

“I knew everything was gone, but I knew my dogs were gone,” she said. “When you think about everything you can replace – they’re a little different.”

They think an electrical issue caused the fire in the front of their house, just yards away from where their baby sleeps.

Matthew McDowell’s mom had also been staying with them.

“I’m just thankful it didn’t happen in the middle of the night because where they think the fire started was right by my mother’s head, was right by my daughter’s head,” said Matthew McDowell.

The flames destroyed most of their belongings.

“There’s things you don’t think about. All of our wedding stuff, all of our mementos,” said Jessica McDowell.

Their young daughter’s items are also gone.

“She had a lot of things, which can be replaced, but to her, she doesn’t understand, she doesn’t know,” said Jessica McDowell.

Their cat Stormy made it out alive.

“He’s what we have left of our pack.”

Along with their chickens and duck.

The family has insurance but doesn’t know what’s next yet or where they will stay.

“We’re just hoping we’ll be able to rebuild,” said Matthew McDowell said.

If you’d like to help, a GoFundMe has been set up to assist them.

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