Friends Become Roommates After Biloxi Fire - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/27/04

Friends Become Roommates After Biloxi Fire

Erie Haynes is the kind of friend everybody should have. After fire damaged the north end of the Seashore Methodist Retirement community, the 89 year old was more than willing to share a ham sandwich, and her tiny apartment with Enid Harris.

"I just didn't want her to be too unhappy about going off somewhere she didn't want to go at all," Mrs. Haynes said.

The Sunday fire ignited right above her friend's apartment.

"I was confused," Harris said, remembering the moments after she realized there was a problem at the Seashore complex. "I was thinking, 'What is going on? Where is all this water coming from?'"

The water came from apartment sprinklers and fire hoses. It forced Harris to flee. But because she uses a walker, getting out wasn't easy -- until a Biloxi fireman showed up at her door.

"As I said, I wouldn't know what he looked like," the fire victim said. "But I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart, because he was so precious. I hugged his neck because he told me to hold on."

Officials found fire and water damage in 13 apartments on the second and third floors of the building. Those tenants are either staying at rooms offered by Biloxi Regional Medical Center, with family, or with friends like Erie Haynes.

"I said well Enid, you're going to stay with me," she told her friend. "You can take the couch, or I can take the couch. Mine is dry."

And that's exactly what Mrs. Harris needed. A warm, dry place to call home, with a friend who's always there to lend a hand.

"How many friends are going to do that?" Mrs. Harris asked.

Biloxi investigators said the complex's sprinkler system worked. But a faulty sprinkler head caused much of the water damage. Investigators believe the Sunday fire caused about $2 million in damage to the Seashore complex.

by Brad Kessie

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