Family regrouping after losing everything in house fire

Family regrouping after losing everything in house fire
The family says they lost everything in the fire. (Photo source: WLOX)

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - An Ocean Springs father had to feel through the darkness of thick smoke in order to find his family and get them to safety when their house caught on fire.

Clarence Battle and Kristen Handler say their Robinson Avenue home in downtown Ocean Springs is a total loss.

"It's really hard. We did lose everything, but as long as our kids are ok, that's all that matters. They're not replaceable," said Handler.

Battle had left the house to get something to eat, and when he returned, saw smoke coming from the roof. His fiance' hurried to get dressed and round up the kids at the same time.

"I opened the door, saw flames, house was on fire. I said 'Where are the kids?' I grabbed the babies, threw them outside, threw my fiance' outside," said Battle. "Felt on the bed, couldn't see anything, felt on bed couldn't find my third child."

Battle says he was eventually able to feel, then see, his 1-year-old son Rowan and their family dog. He then threw them both out of the window to safety.

The father made sure his family got out, but now has bandages over burns to his hands.

"It's really devastating, we lost everything we had, all the kids have ever known. They don't really understand what's going on. We're trying to hold it together, but it's hard sometimes," said Handler, who will travel to USA Medical Center in Mobile on Tuesday to have Battle's hands re-examined.

Investigators say the fire was accidental and appears to have been caused by an electrical issue. Donations are being accepted at Central Fire station in Ocean Springs.

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