JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Not much is left of the home after firefighters spent more than four hours trying to save it. The flames were intense and shot into the early morning sky, bathing the nearby live oaks in an eerie glow. Without the efforts of dedicated volunteers, it could have been worse, spreading into the woods and nearby homes.
Wayne Emile, Jr. is the Fire Chief for the Gulf Park Estates/St. Andrews Volunteer Fire Department.
"We can't do it without the volunteers. They are 100 percent the backbone of this department and every department in this state. We didn't have volunteers, we wouldn't be where we are now. We had a good turnout. We had 20 of them show up," Emile said.
For Emile, losing the home does sting.
"You hate to see anybody lose anything, but in this line of work, it unfortunately happens often but it definitely hits you in a certain spot," said Emile.
One of the volunteers was Faust Milazzo, with the Central Jackson County VFD.
"We're here for the community. We love doing what we do all the time, and it's just something we enjoy," Milazzo said.
No one was home, and no one was hurt.
"That's a good day," Milazzo explained. "That's a very good day that everybody got home safe just the way they got there. It's an awesome feeling."
While there's no doubting the dedication and desire to help that these volunteers display on a daily basis, something else is without a doubt. The impression they leave on those who watch them.
One of them was Bill Mowitt, who was there to witness the fire and now looks over the charred remains of the beach home.
"Well, I think that the spirit of service that volunteer firefighters show," Mowitt said. "It's humbling as a member of the community to know that those guys are willing to come out here in the middle of the night and drop everything and get up out of their beds and come racing to the fire."
It's something they do, no matter was day it is.
Fire officials are working to contact the homeowner this evening. As of now, the cause of the fire is unknown and remains under investigation.