Guard soldier loses family home in fire

By Al Showers - bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Hancock County National Guard soldier needs your help. A fire early Monday morning destroyed his home on Firetower Road, and everything inside it.

"There's not even parts of stuff. It's just soot. Personal electronics, all my uniforms, everything," Ladner said as he sifted through what's left of his belongings.

He knows eventually he'll replace those things. He's just thankful to be alive.

"I woke up, the house was already filled with smoke. My cat was going crazy, that's what woke me up. I got up, walked toward the living room and saw that the bathroom already had smoke pouring out of it, and fire was already half way up the wall."

Ladner tried dousing the flames with water. When that didn't work, he crawled to the doorway and escaped.

"After I got myself out, I had the doors opened, I tried to break a few windows, but the cat didn't make it out."

He cut his hand on the glass while trying to save his pet.

"About five this morning, I was pretty emotional, but right now I'm mostly numb. It was unreal. Bad dream. It didn't feel real, it was just horrible."

Ladner is a solider with the Mississippi Army National Guard. He's about to be re-deployed overseas with the 155th Infantry Battalion.

"It does make it a little harder to get ready for things when I have to deal with this. The house itself was at least 80, 85 years old. My dad was born in it, my grandpa built the house. Major family history revolves around it."

The official cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Ladner is already speculating.

"We're thinking it might be wiring, cause we did re-do some of the wiring here in the past year. So there is new wiring mixed with old wiring and an old house."

Ladner had no insurance on his home. A benefit account has been set up in his name. If you can help, just stop by any Hancock Bank branch and ask to donate to the Randy Ladner fire fund.