‘We lost everything’, Columbia man, granddaughter homeless after grease fire

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COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Columbia man and his granddaughter are without a home after a grease fire over the weekend.

James Thompson spoke with News 2 about the devastating fire. He says he and his granddaughter are now homeless.

The fire happened Sunday morning on Fleming Street. Thompson said he was cooking food and walked away to check on his four new kittens. He then heard a loud explosion.

“I went into the bedroom to check to see if they were on my bed because I didn’t want them to mess up the bed. At that time I heard a loud pop and glass. As I come around my bedroom to look, the kitchen was completely blown and dark. Completely engulfed. The pan that had the grease was completely inflamed,” said Thompson.

Thompson said he tried desperately to put the fire out, but the flames just kept growing. He eventually ran out to a neighbor’s house and let them know the house was on fire. He was given oxygen from first responders.

“I was short of breath and I felt like I was going to pass out. By the time the ambulance got there, the whole house was fully engulfed. The kittens were still in there and I asked if they could find them because their mother had run out,” said Thompson.

Thompson is disabled and said he’s in total shock. Thanks to the American Red Cross, he and his granddaughter are able to stay at Hotel O Columbia Downtown near I-65, but he is not sure of what they will do after that.

“My knees are literally shaking because I’ve never been homeless before and I don’t know how. I’ve started over before and I don’t know how to do it again. I did it my whole life, starting over and made it. This time.. it’s really hard with my health. I just got out of the hospital on June 3rd,” explained Thompson.

Thompson told News 2 he’s been sick and he’s just trying to take care of his granddaughter.

“I try to still take care of my granddaughter because I want her to have a better life. I just want her to know I’m there for her and I love her and everything else. I feel totally in shock,” said Thompson.

Thompson said he can’t believe this happened in his own home.

“In 53 years, I thought I was always safe about a fire and thought that it would never happen to me. To see how quick a grease fire can get away… it can get away from you right in front of your face. You can literally die right there. I had to make the choice to get out,” said Thompson.

Thompson said fire crews were able to rescue all four kittens and they are all doing well now.

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