SW Arkansas veteran loses home to fire on Memorial Day weekend

Local News

HEMPSTEAD COUNTY, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – Memorial Day weekend turned to tragedy for a family in Hempstead County, Arkansas after a dangerous house fire. 

The home belonged to Wendell Murry, a Vietnam veteran. He said he built the house with his own hands in 1975. “That house was filling up with smoke quick. There wouldn’t have been five more minutes, and wouldn’t nobody have got out,” he said.

It was Friday around lunch. Murry’s daughter-in-law, Connie, raced to get him outside. “I saw smoke coming out of the vents,” she said.

Connie and her husband, Gil, live in the home, too. Gil, who served in the U.S. Air Force, was at work at the time. 

Some men working at the home helped the veteran into his wheelchair. “I think it was a power surge,” Connie said. 

Now, a lifetime of treasures are gone. “There’s 75 years of memories buried right there in ashes,” Wendell said.

His family is grateful to the community for their support. They’re staying in the house of a friend, for now. 

“They’re borrowing clothes to wear,” said Greg Beck, President of Vietnam Veterans of America #278 in Texarkana. “The VA ain’t real speedy on stuff, and they don’t have anything set up for burnouts anyhow,” he said

Beck said his group raises money to lend a hand in tough situations like this. The Murry family is grateful for the support of the chapter. “That’s the important thing, nobody got hurt,” Wendell said. 

“I know it happens all the time, but this is a veteran. He’s a Vietnam veteran, he got a Purple Heart, and so we’re gonna help him out somehow or another,” Beck said

The Murry family does have insurance on their home. They hope to get some answers soon.

If you’d like more information about the Vietnam Veterans of America in Texarkana, you can find them online at www.vva278.org or call Chapter President Greg Beck at (903) 556-1613 to leave a message.

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