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Clear Spring family loses home and Christmas gifts in fire

December 27, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

CLEAR SPRING - The Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Department is collecting donations for a family that lost its home and most of its belongings in a fire Christmas morning, Chief Charles Mundey said.

"We got up Christmas morning, and my daughter came out and started opening up her gifts, and the next thing you know, we have nothing," Samuel Chapman said.

The fire started just after 8 a.m. in the family's mobile home at 13560 Cross Creek Drive, Mundey said.

Chapman said the family was using a wood stove, and a crack in the chimney apparently created a draft that caused the rafters to catch on fire. His wife, Teresa, happened to go outside and saw the chimney engulfed in flames, he said.

Chapman got his 13-year-old daughter, Samantha, and their dog outside, then went in to try to salvage their belongings. He managed to throw two of Samantha's new games out of the house, but the rest of the family's belongings, including a PlayStation 2 they had bought for Christmas, were destroyed.

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"It took our Christmas from us," Chapman said.

About 25 volunteer firefighters from companies in Clear Spring, Williamsport, Maugansville and Mercersburg, Pa., were at the scene until about 10:45 a.m., Mundey said. The house is unlivable because of the smoke damage, Mundey said.

Also ruined were their furniture, clothes, televisions, computer and many items with sentimental value, he said.

The bad news didn't end there. The Chapmans, who were renting the home, learned their landlord wanted them to clean the trailer out and find someplace else to live.

The family did not have insurance, Mundey said.

The Chapmans stayed Tuesday and Wednesday night with Teresa's sister, and the American Red Cross will put them up for three days, but after that they have nowhere to go and no money to use to start over, Chapman said.

"I'd just paid the rent and spent the rest of everything I had on Christmas," he said. "This leaves me broke and it leaves me homeless."

Donations may be dropped off at the Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Department on Mulberry Street in Clear Spring. Checks may be mailed to the department at P.O. Box 400, Clear Spring, MD 21722, labeled "For the Chapmans."

Samuel Chapman wears a size large shirt, size 10 1/2 shoe and size large jogging-style pants. Teresa Chapman wears a size large shirt, size 8 1/2 shoe and size 14 pants. Samantha Chapman, 13, wears a size small shirt, size 7 1/2 to 8 shoe and size 1 to 3 pants.

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