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Fire Takes Rienzi Man’s Home, Not Christmas Spirit

Alcorn County resident Timothy Brown stands next to the smoldering reamins of his home, which burned down Tuesday. (Photo by Josh Mitchell)

By Josh Mitchell

Corinth Today News Editor

Alcorn County resident Timothy Brown’s house burned to the ground Tuesday, less than a week before Christmas.

The fire also claimed three cats and a dog.

Losing a home in a fire is always hard, Brown said, but even tougher around Christmas.

“This is the season you’re supposed to be jolly and happy,” said Brown, who had lived at the house on State Highway 356 near Rienzi about 12 years.

But as Brown sat at his mother’s kitchen table just down the road from where his house burned, he reflected on all the blessings he still has in life.

“I’m a firm believer in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Brown, 59, said. “I’ve got my mother, my family and a strong belief in God.”

His mom, Charlene Finch, said they still remember what they are grateful for despite the circumstances.

The fire broke out Tuesday at about 4 a.m. Brown had recently woken up and was smoking a cigarette when he heard a popping sound in a bedroom.

He said he walked back to investigate the situation and saw fire running across the wall from an electrical outlet. Brown, who was badly burned in a mobile home fire in Rienzi about 12 years ago, knew he and his niece needed to escape.

He shut the door to the room to cut off the Oxygen and woke up his niece, Brandy Hicks. Brown grabbed a puppy and a cat, and Hicks scooped up a cat, and they went outside. But in the panicked situation the puppy and a cat ran back inside the burning house. Brown tried to go back in the house to rescue the animals again, but it was too late.

The house was engulfed in flames in no time, and Hicks ran barefoot a quarter mile down Highway 356 to her grandmother’s house for help.

One cat, Whisper, survived while three kittens named Crybaby, Charlie and Itchy Bone and a puppy named Molly perished.

Brown broke part of his hand in the fire Tuesday, and also had some burns to his hands, nose, face and head.

But his injuries this time were not nearly as serious as what happened in the trailer fire he narrowly survived about 12 years ago. That incident put him in the Memphis burn center for three months, including three weeks in a medically induced coma.

In the latest fire, Brown lost everything including a tractor, family heirlooms and pictures. His sister, who was also Hicks’ mom, died in an auto wreck in Oklahoma about five years ago. In the fire, Brown lost a ceramic chess set that used to belong to her.

Even though he has had such loss this close to Christmas, Brown still honors the birth of Jesus.

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