ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — A JFRD firefighter and his family are recovering after losing much of their home in St. Johns County to a fire on Monday night.
The community has since stepped up in a big way to help.
In a matter of minutes, everything changed for the Parkin family.
Caitlin Parkin had just got home with her two children to a sight she never could have imagined.
“I went to the front door, and the house was filled with smoke. There was standing water on the floor. I saw a couple of my animals,” she said.
She immediately called her husband Jessie Parkin, a JFRD firefighter.
“I hear all the frantic; everything going on. I hear the smoke alarm going off, and my heart just drops,” he said.
He raced down from his station to their home in St. Johns County.
Parkin has put out many fires himself but has never been a victim to one before.
He said, “When you come home to that, and you look to your left, and you see members of your family have passed — no matter how tough you are, it’s going to break you down.”
The Parkins lost five of their animals, or family members, to the fire. The last 48 hours have been a whirlwind.
But their families at the St. Johns County Sheriffs Office, JFRD and even strangers are helping them get through.
Caitlin Parkin’s co-workers at the sheriff’s office rushed over the night of the fire and helped salvage what they could in the home.
He said, “They really put blood, sweat and tears into that night and helping my family move forward.”
Since then, a friend has started a GoFundMe for the family. And within 24 hours, it’s raised more than $13,000.
Jessie Parkin said, “Within 24 hours, for people to support us the way that they have, it really changes your whole way of thinking about just humanity, everything in life.”
The Parkin family told us even their children’s schools have stepped up to help, along with so many other community members.
They are overwhelmed with gratitude.
When they get the chance in the future, the family wants to pay it forward when another family faces the same heartbreak.