GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - A Gulfport family is without a home after narrowly escaping a Friday morning fire that authorities say was intentionally started by a Gulfport woman.
The fire on Searle Avenue destroyed the home early Friday morning, however, it could have killed the family inside if it weren’t for their hero dog, Sofie.
“We were asleep. Our dog woke us up,” said resident Bonnie Nichole McKey. “We came out, opened the door to our bedroom and smoke just hit us in the face. I immediately woke up the family and tried to get out. Had to bust out of the back fence just get out because all of this was engulfed in flames.”
But Sofie, didn’t make it.
“We lost our dog,” McKey said.
They also lost everything else. The contents inside were destroyed either from flames or water. Ceiling material now smashed on the floor, and two cars nearly melted from the heat.
McKey has had time to process only one thing.
“Hurt,” said Mckey. “I don’t know why somebody would do this to us. I don’t know. We’ll be fine, but I just don’t understand why some people are so cruel.”
McKey saw the suspect.
“She was at the end of the driveway when we came out and we were finally trying to make sense of what was going on. She took off one way and they ended up putting her in police custody.”
That residence is the home of neighbor David Forbes, who discovered a woman on his back porch. He said she apparently had been there for a while, leaving her cigarettes and some money on the table.
“She was in the back of the door and she wanted me to call her mom, or something,” Forbes said. “So, I just told her to hold on a second - I was trying to call 911. And she got up and she lit something on fire and I went over on the back to turn the light on and she ran out.”
It was soon after the incident that the McKey’s house was engulfed in flames.
“Everybody watch,” McKey advised. “There’s crazy people out there. And, just, everybody be careful.”
Gulfport Police arrested 42-year-old Sumer Ree Treadaway and charged her with two counts of arson and one count of burglary of a residence.
In October 2020, Treadaway was also arrested on charges connected to the home invasion of a 78-year-old woman. She was out on bond for those charges, which include armed robbery, kidnapping, burglary, motor vehicle theft and aggravated assault. Therefore, authorities said she is not eligible for bond on the current charges of arson and burglary.
In an interesting coincidence, McKey said she went to high school with the suspect, but has no association with her. If you’d like to help the family, click this link.