Henderson Firefighters Building Home On Same Lot as Deadly Fire

Taking a tragedy and turning it into a triumph.

That's how best to describe what's happening in one Henderson neighborhood, where it's been nearly nine years since a devastating fire took the life of a grandmother.

For years, this location has been a sad reminder of what was lost following a tragic fatal fire.

But Today, firefighters, Habitat for Humanity, and members of the victims family are building something new.

April 6th, 2008, in the face of tragedy, stood courage.

"A lot of people here say that they've only ever met one true hero in their time here and it's the lady at the house who sacrificed herself to save her granddaughter," says Jesse Martin, President of the local firefighters union.

"The lady at the house" was 67 year old Ruth Pearson on Lieber Street.

"Ruth actually shielded her granddaughter, I believe she was 6-8 months old, she shielded her with her body and Ruth ended up dying in the fire but it saved the little girl," says Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity, Britney Smith.

In the midst of loss, Pearson's family found peace in giving.

Smith says, "The family came to us and they wanted some hope to be built back on this property and so we were very happy to work with them."

Martin says, "Whenever we found out that that lot had been donated, and we had a bunch of guys here who made that fire, it just seemed like it was meant to be. So, we just pounced on that and it's been really fortunate for the fire department and for habitat."

And like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, firefighters traded hoses for hammers, and a new home goes up, ready to help a family build a new life.

"Meredith Cook and her son, Cutler, will be living in this home," says Smith. "Meredith is a very very hard working single mother. This house to her kind of embodies that single mothers can make it on their own, you know, can provide a safe and decent affordable home for their children."

And just like that, tragedy becomes triumph, a community of people uniting to build what was once brought down.

"Here at the fire department we usually see people on their worst days," says Martin. "That does make a positive impact that the community, to help out like that, it's kind of nice to be there on the other side of the coin and be there when somebody's not having a bad day and be able to help them out."


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