Update as of Aug. 11
WESTVILLE – Holmes County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Florida State Fire Marshal Bureau of Fire and Arson are investigating the fire in Westville that left four homeless on Aug. 7.
According to the report this was the third of a series of fires at the residence, with fires also on July 10 and July 13.
During the investigation arson was suspected and a suspect was identified and after a series of interviews the suspect admitted to starting all three fires inside the residence, according to the report.
The suspect was transported to a mental health facility for treatment and the investigation is still ongoing.
WESTVILLE - In the early morning hours, even before sunrise on Aug. 7 a Westville family of four lost their home to a terrible blaze however there were no injured. According resident Gail Tate, mother of five, the fire started before 5:30 that morning at their residence located on the intersection of County Road 163 and Peacock Lane in Westville.
"I woke up coughing around 5:30 this morning and smelt something like smoke," said Gail. "I open the door to the kitchen and it was nothing but a wall of flames. I managed to get my son, Samuel, out and called the fire department but it couldn't be saved."
Arriving at the scene to help battle the blaze Pittman Volunteer Fire Department, Pine Log Volunteer Fire Department and New Hope Volunteer Fire Department.
Gail lived with her husband, Steve and two sons, Samuel, 18, and Isaac, 12.
She said of all the possessions she lost, there was one she would miss the most and that was a portrait of her deceased son who died 14 years ago at the age of 12 to complications brought on by cerebral palsy.
"That's what hurts most," said Gail. "I know God has us handled because He is an almighty God. There's valleys and hills and God will provide."
She said believes this was the third of a series of arson attempts on her home in the last several weeks. The first was a lit bottle of accelerant that was thrown under the house, but was contained with damage only to one window and the second was a lit bottle of accelerant thrown through the kitchen window, burning a portion of the kitchen.
The incident is currently under investigation by the State Fire Marshall and no information regarding the incident has been released as the investigation is on-going.
American Red Cross was present to provide the family with a stay at a local hotel for several nights as well as a debit card in the amount of $650 to help with immediate needs.
There are no fundraisers or accounts open at this time for donations to help the family, however if you are interested in donating to the family Gail has provided contact information for her daughter, Angel Cannon at 850-956-4107.
More information will be posted as it is provided and if there is any information of funds being raised for the Tate family please call Cecilia at 850-658-4038 or the newsroom at 850-638-0212 ext. 4006 or email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.