GALLATIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — Robert H. Alexander Jr. has made a lifetime of memories in his Gallatin home on Santa Monica Blvd., a home that burned down.
“It’s a disaster. I’ve cried many times, but that ain’t going to bring nothing back that I had.”
The 83-year-old bought the home when he married his wife.
“I was 21. It’s been a long time,” said Alexander.
Walking around the charred remains, it’s clear Alexander is filled with pride for the home he made for his family.
“I built two rooms on the bottom and put one big one across the top of it. I had my own bathroom and everything up there. I had put a lot of time and a lot of work into it.”
In fact, Alexander still works and was on the job when he received news of the fire Thursday night.
His first thought was his eight family members inside including 18-year-old Devarius Alexander.
“I got a whiff of the smoke,” Devarius explains.
It’s then he realized neighborhood kids sparked the flames.
“They were having firework wars. Everyone was playing and shooting at each other.”
A round hit the house.
“I honestly don’t think they tried to burn down the house,” says Devarius. “It’s just kids playing around, and it got out of hand.”
Thankfully, Devarius took an elective fire safety class in high school and recalled what the teacher said.
“A lot of the things I used were from what he taught us. How fire moves and timing.”
He sprang into action.
“I put my siblings in the car,” recalled Devarius, “I couldn’t pull out of the front because my cousin’s car was there, so I had to just drive over the fence.”
Safe, they watched the fire burn for hours.
“The biggest problem is there’s not fire hydrants in this community,” says Alexander. “They had fire trucks from different communities going back and forth and getting water.”
A total loss, the family now sifts through rubble looking for mementos that matter most.
“My brother was a day old when my Mama passed,” explained Alexander, “And I had pictures of all of us when we were little. That’s what hurts me.”
But Alexander says to move on, he must not focus on what he’s lost, but rather the family he has with him today.
“I’m blessed. I’m really blessed and thank the Lord for that.”
If you would like to help the family, a GoFundMe page has been set up.