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Firemen save kitty from burning Halifax County house

Jennifer Barksdale’s 1-year-old kitten, Tommy, came very close to using up one of his nine lives Sunday afternoon.

Thanks to James Hicks and several other volunteers with the Turbeville Volunteer Fire Department, Tommy and his grateful owner are together once again. 

The home at 6241 Melon Road sustained water, smoke and fire damage Sunday afternoon after a fire started in a dryer in the laundry room.

According to Turbeville Volunteer Fire Chief Ricky Hicks, Cary and Jennifer Barksdale occupied the single story brick house. Nine firefighters were called to the scene Sunday at 2:43 p.m.

Barksdale said she wants everyone to know how “wonderful” the Turbeville volunteer firefighters were in saving her kitten as her house burned.

When firefighters from Turbeville, Blairs and Laurel Grove volunteer fire departments arrived on the scene, Barksdale said she mentioned to James and his father, Ricky Hicks, how she had been able to get her dogs out, but the kitten was still inside.

“He asked me where do you think he is,” Barksdale recalled.

“It was the most beautiful sight to see James, dressed from head to toe in his fire suit, come out of that burning house with my kitty clinging to him for dear life,” she said. 

“It was something right out of a movie,” said Barksdale describing the scene when Hicks emerged from the smoke-filled house carrying her long-haired Persian kitten, singed and dripping wet.

“Once he got out in the fresh air, he came right around,” Chief Ricky Hicks said.

“He was the hardest thing to catch,” James Hicks told Barksdale. “He was scared to death and running all over the place,” she said telling how four brave firemen fought the black smoke to chase down her kitten in an effort to save its life.

“They went way above and beyond the call of duty,” she added.

Barksdale had just gotten home and walked into the house when she smelled something she described “like a burning candle that had just been blown out.”

The smell was coming from her dryer, and she said she had “no time to do anything before the house was filled with smoke.”

She called 911 as she tried to get her two dogs out of the house that was quickly turning black.

“It happened so fast, but I was able to get the dogs out. I knew Tommy was still inside though,” she said.

 “The fire department was so wonderful. They just went into action putting out the fire,” she said. 

The day after, Barksdale said she had had time to think about the job these firefighters did, and she is so thankful they not only were able to extinguish the blaze, but they saved her Tommy too.

“It was the one little bright spot when you know you’re losing all your stuff,” she said.

It took one and a half hours for firefighters to bring the dryer fire under control, Hicks said.

Chief Ricky Hicks said the house was valued at $160,000 and sustained $20,000 in structural damage and about $20,000 in damage to its contents.