Woman loses home and two dogs in late night fire

OKEECHOBEE — On May 26 at around 2:44 a.m. Okeechobee resident Jessica Brumley heard a loud explosion in her neighborhood. When she looked outside she saw her neighbor’s trailer engulfed in flames.

Ms. Brumley immediately called emergency services in hopes of saving the three people who lived in the trailer located at 6047 S.E. 95th Trail, Rachel Lindley, her baby Raylin Lindley, and her mother Regina Lindley.

The burnt shell of the Lindley home after a late night fire on May 26 destroyed the trailer and everything inside. Special to the Okeechobee News.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) Deputy Kenneth Hernandez was first to arrive on the scene and made contact with Ms. Brumley who informed him of the three people that live in the trailer. According to Deputy Hernandez’s incident report as he arrived he observed the trailer fully engulfed in flames. He checked to make sure no power lines were down and that there were no propane tanks around the trailer. With the fire still growing rapidly, he proceeded to evacuate the surrounding residents to safety.

Okeechobee County Fire Rescue (OCFR) arrived on scene around 3 a.m. and were made aware en route of two women and a small child who may still be in the home. According to the fire report prepared by OCFR Lieutenant Robert Banfield, once OCFR made a stop on the fire they were then able to gain entry to the back bedroom of the trailer and search for anyone caught inside during the fire. But OCFR were unable to locate anyone.

While evacuating nearby residents, Deputy Hernandez made contact with Carol Hagler who informed the officer that she had dropped Rachel and her baby off at a friend’s house around 4 p.m. and that Rachel had mentioned possibly staying the night there.

Carol also reported that Regina was not in the trailer that night as she had been staying at her sister’s house.

Deputy Hernandez was able to contact Regina over the phone. Regina was distraught at the news of what happened but confirmed that Rachel and her baby had spent the night at a friend’s house that night. She did inform the deputy that there were two dogs inside the trailer and asked if they were able to be saved. Deputy Hernandez stated that the trailer was fully engulfed upon arrival and it was impossible to make entry.

Rachel Lindley was still asleep at her friend’s house when she began to receive calls from neighbors and family about what was happening at her house.

“I thought it was a joke at first,” said Rachel. “But people don’t usually joke about serious things like that and the calls kept coming. So I dropped off my daughter with her grandmother and went back home. I didn’t want my daughter to see it. Everything was just gone. There’s nothing left. If we had been inside, we’d be gone; there would’ve been no chance. The only thing left in my house was my bible. The outside of it was burned but none of the pages were damaged.”

Rachel reports that the only clothes she has now are the ones she wore that night and that the bodies of the two family dogs, a 15 year old named Precious and a 6 month old named Spike, have not been discovered.

“Spike was just a baby,” explained Rachel. “He would follow me everywhere. I know they’re just animals, but I was close to both of them.”

Now, Rachel is attempting to pick up the pieces and recover from the shock of losing her house, belongings and animals.

“I feel lost,” Rachel said. “I’m just taking one day at a time. I need to keep a smile on my face for my four-year-old daughter.”

A state fire marshal is currently investigating the cause of the fire.

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

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