*Walter Harris, a disabled 80-year-old man from Conyers, Ga., woke up at 4 a.m. on March 22 to his kitchen on fire.
“I heard something poppin’ and went to the kitchen and I see the blaze,” Harris told Atlanta’s 11Alive. “I ran to get my clothes on, and by the time I got my clothes on, the smoke was in the kitchen where I was.”
His house was on fire from a possible gas leak. And in a short amount of time, his house, car, truck, were destroyed, with everything inside – including his dog, Dollar Bill.
“That was his life partner,” said his niece Renee’ Simpson.
Walter has lived in the home off Grimes Street in Conyers since he was 29. Fifty years of memories, photos of his wife and kids, gone. No clothes, no anything, except for what he and his grandson had on when they fled.
Simpson said her favorite uncle spent his life doing construction work, laying brick, and pouring concrete as a private contractor. A life of hard work, and a life that left him without much savings, without a pension, 401(k), or benefits outside of social security income.
Harris, who stays with a friend nearby, says he hopes to build back his home. Simpson’s not sure how that will happen. She’s started an online fundraiser that’s initially raised less than $100 in four days. But, as his story spread, it’s now just north of $8000 toward a goal of $100,000.
Simpson is just happy her uncle is alive. She said: “Just to know that he survived, that’s like hitting the lottery for me. I thank God, that God spared his life.”
Watch Harris’ story below. To donate to his GoFundme, click here.