Community helps Burkburnett family after house fire

Family is appreciative of the community’s outpouring of support
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 7:48 PM CST
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BURKBURNETT, Texas (TNN) - An accidental fire Saturday evening left one Burkburnett family with almost nothing saved from inside their house.

“It’s crazy how it can happen in a blink of an eye and everything you own is gone,” said Derek Sykes, who lost his home in a fire.

While the Burkburnett Fire Department ruled the cause of fire as undetermined, Derek Sykes and Michsella Ory think it could be from the fire pit.

“It can happen to anybody. Like camp fires happen. Like campsites burn down. You can’t, sometimes you can’t always know if it’s completely out,” said Michsella Ory, who lost her home in a fire.

The fire department says the heavily involved fire required mutual aid partners to get it under control. Five agencies responded to the call. Wichita Falls, Iowa Park, Wichita West, Freiburg Cooper, and Sheppard Air Force Base.

Within minutes, neighbors heard about the fire and quickly started donating.

“The community has already reached out to the occupants to help them with some things as far as clothing and some other things,” said Harold Watkins, Fire Chief at Burkburnett Fire Department.

The fire department reminds everyone to be fire safe.

When using a fire pit, it needs to be in a controlled area with a container and has a screen on top of it to prevent embers from blowing.

“Just make sure that you get the smoke detectors replaced. Change the batteries. Keep them in working condition,” said Watkins.

As the landlord, Jennifer Whaley, says her only concern is that this family is safe and receives help rebuilding their life.

“I couldn’t imagine, you know, losing everything and having to start over. And so, you know, that’s where I want to help is get them back on their feet,” said Whaley.

The family was able to get out of the house along with their pets safe. They are currently staying with family.

Burkburnett schools the children attend are collecting donations. The Burkburnett Middle School contact is Jessica Dobbs and can be reached at

Whaley started taking in monetary donations through Venmo, which she shared on Facebook. She also posted how people can send money directly to the family.

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