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Brush fire leaves family homeless

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

ALBANY -- Seven people, including five children, were displaced after a brush fire near their mobile home got out of control.

The incident occurred Saturday afternoon when a grass fire at 3108 Plains Drive that had been left unattended made its way to a family's nearby mobile home at 3310 War Eagle Drive.

The Albany Fire Department arrived at the scene just before 4 p.m. By that time, everything was lost. The occupants, Kelsey and Dinetha Rayner, were living in the home with their four children and a nephew they had recently taken in.

The fire traveled across two properties before reaching the Rayner home, the occupants told The Albany Herald.

Since the incident, the family has been in the process of picking up the pieces.

"We don't know where to start," Dinetha Rayner said Monday. "The Red Cross put us up in a hotel for the weekend, but they said that was all they were able to do. As of right now, we are just depending on family.

"We don't know what to think and feel. We don't know what to do."

Dinetha Rayner and her children were not at home at the time of the fire, but her spouse was.

"My husband was home, and a neighbor came across the street and got him out before (the blaze) got out of control," she said.

The fire caused $30,000 in property damage and $15,000 in content damage.

The family did not have insurance.

"We extinguished the mobile home fire and contained the grass fire," said Jim Vaught of the Albany Fire Department.

About 10,000 gallons of water were used to get the situation under control, Vaught said. Firefighters were on the scene until about 6 p.m.

"We always tell people that if you have permission to start these kinds of fires, you need to sit and watch it," Vaught said. "It might seem like a simple brush fire, but the wind might catch it."

The Rayner family has been receiving items donated by an area church. In the meantime, the family is looking for monetary donations.

"Anything anybody can do would help," Dinetha Rayner said.

It is likely an account will be set up at an area bank in the coming days to receive funds to go toward the family's recovery. In the meantime, the Rayners can be reached at (229) 436-2797.

In an unrelated incident, officials are currently investigating an arson in the second degree that took place on the 600 block of Shadowlawn Drive just before 3:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

According to an Albany Police Department incident report, the arson occurred in the home's garage. There were no known witnesses or suspects.

The AFD responded to the incident, which is currently under investigation.