Punta Gorda family loses dogs, home in fire: ‘Everything was gone’

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

A family was left heartbroken after two of their dogs died, and everything in their home was destroyed in a fire. The Punta Gorda family of six is staying at a hotel while they try and figure out what to do next.

Mackenzie Derby, 22, woke up last Monday to her world burning around her.

“I woke up around four in the morning,” Derby said.

“And I just see bright orange, like an orange that I’ve never seen before,” Derby said.

“I grabbed my son out of his crib. And I just started yelling get out. There’s a fire,” Derby said.

Derby and her family all made it out, but Bella and Derby, their two dogs, didn’t make it.

“The worst part of it is our dogs like they were so terrified that we couldn’t get them out of the house,” Derby said.

“We didn’t have time at that point to keep trying to get the dogs out,” Derby said. “Everything was gone.”

A short week later, they’re still trying to cope with the loss of two beloved family members and come to grips with losing everything they owned.

“The house isn’t even what we care about. It’s our dogs and all of our memories,” Derby said.

“I’ve been down. I’ve been down but never down like this. This is beyond,” Rodney Derby said.

And after Tuesday night, their family of six will have nowhere to live because the hotel funds will run dry.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do next. And nobody will help us…the Red Cross. They can’t do anything else,” Paula Moomey said.

WINK News asked Moomey what they needed.

“Everything,” Moomey emphasized. “We need everything. We need clothes. We need food. We need shelter.”

“We need baby formula. Soy Similac. We need size four diapers. He needs clothes, six to nine months,” Moomey said.

As they face the unknown, the family is left praying for a miracle. Their love for each other is all that’s keeping them going.

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