Fire destroys policeman’s home

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Flames engulf a home at 1950 N. Washington St. early this morning as firefighters work to extinguish the blaze.(Melanie Duncan Thortis The Vicksburg Post)

[12/17/03]As police Lt. Davey Barnette arrived home from his shift at about 11:30 Tuesday night, he saw a glow in his living room.

He called 911 dispatchers on his radio and said he thought his Christmas tree was on fire.

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Then the radio was silent.

“I need help,” was the next call from Barnette, a 20-year veteran of the police force. “I need everybody here now.”

When Vicksburg Fire Department trucks arrived, the North Washington Street house, built in the 1920s, was engulfed in flames.

Barnette’s wife, their daughter and son-in-law had been asleep when the fire started, but they were running out the back door as Barnette pulled up.

“Thank God for the fire alarms. They’re probably the only things that work in that house,” said Barnette’s wife, Jan, as she stood in sock feet watching firefighters work. Also a police department employee, she works in records.

The Barnettes’ daughter, Andrea Pezan, and her husband, Bryan Pezan, were also living in the house temporarily. She is pregnant and was taken to River Region Medical Center where she was checked and released, a hospital spokesman said.

The family’s dogs made it out of the house safely, but family cats had not been found.

Only the brick foundation of the wood home remained today. An investigation into the fire’s source was planned.

A camper behind the house and a lawnmower were partially burned, but other out-buildings on the property were not damaged.

Fire and police officials on the scene were all distraught about the timing of the blaze, nearly a week from Christmas.

“They’ve just lost everything,” said Keith Rogers, Vicksburg Fire Department chief.

He said the department would help the family any way it could.

“He’s a friend of mine. He’s a good man,” Rogers said. “He knows he’s got a place to stay. Anything they need, we’ll try to get for them.”

The family was planning to stay with relatives until deciding what to do.