BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - People working at the Gulf Coast Rescue Mission are beginning to clean up and planning to rebuild after a fire ripped through their building early Saturday morning.
On Monday, Sean Smith with the Gulf Coast Rescue Mission surveyed the damage from Saturday's fire.
"They woke me up at 4:30 on Saturday morning and couldn't believe it," Smith recalled. "I've been through when our big store burned down about 10 years ago. I was there for that and I was like, 'Oh G-d not again."
Fire investigators believe they've determined the cause of the fire. Biloxi Fire Chief Joe Boney said investigator William Fairley found that it was started accidentally by people smoking homemade cigarettes in the area.
Smith said they've lost everything, but people have already come by to bring donations of food and clothes.
"We still need clothes, blankets, paper plates, because we have no water, no hot water or anything to wash dishes, or no dishes to wash," Smith noted.
Employees of the Gulf Coast Rescue Mission said when their regulars come here looking for help, they may have to redirect them to one of the other rescue missions in the area.
"We have other agencies that we know doing same thing that we do, that we always call upon. Either one of the Catholic social services, or Back Bay Mission, or Seashore Mission, or places like that," Smith said.
Tim Mims with the Gulf Coast Rescue Mission said, "Just total shock, sadness. The Gulf Coast Rescue Mission has been here 51 years, we've been in the community helping people. Now the role seems to be reversed."
"Some people crying, some people come here every day, and know this rescue mission and know the guys here," Smith said. "We're in shock, I'm numb to it, but when I smell smoke or see destruction, a big chuck of our lives are gone."
Smith said he wants to thank the people who have already made donations. He said as they clean up and start rebuilding, they'll also begin serving the community again.
There were 16 men staying at the mission at the time of the fire. Luckily, no one was injured.