St. Amant family loses everything in fire after rebuilding from - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

St. Amant family loses everything in fire after rebuilding from August flood

Source: St. Amant Fire Department Source: St. Amant Fire Department
Source: WAFB Source: WAFB
Source: Backes family Source: Backes family

An Ascension Parish family in the middle of rebuilding their flooded home in St. Amant watched it burn to the ground on Sunday, and the cause is not something investigators typically find.

William Backes can barely stand to look at what's left of the place he called home. The house he and his daughter, Jessica Elise, lived in most of their lives has been reduced to rubble. Elise says even when it took on a foot and a half of water during the August flood, she and her dad stayed put.

“We only left to go get food and walk the dog and we returned to the house each night,” she said.

The 17-year-old says she and her family were making great progress, but that suddenly changed. On Sunday, December 18, Elise says she left to go to a friend's house to do laundry. She was 15 minutes away when the fire happened.

“We had just gotten up most of the floor. We only had a few squares of carpet left and my dad's room. We had just finished getting up all the floor the day before the fire happened,” said Elise.

St. Amant Fire Chief James Leblanc returned to the scene Tuesday to visit with the Backes. He says it took six fire departments to extinguish the fire. When they arrived, he says, the house was engulfed in flames.

“Whenever this homeowner went outside to call 911 and the door was still open, the wind took this house and the house was gone in less than 15 minutes,” said Leblanc.

Leblanc also says the oven was in self-cleaning mode overnight when it began smoking and eventually caught fire. He says the house did not have a working smoke detector. William barely escaped and had to be treated for second degree burns. His daughter is in good spirits considering they lost everything, but there is one thing missing, her best friend of 14 years, Princess.

“I've had her for so long and I love her and I know she loves me and she's really, really special to me. She's been in the family a long time and I don't know what I'd do without her,” said Elise.

To donate to the Backes family, contact Kara Erickson at 225-202-4281, or visit their GoFundMe page. Elise and her father are both in need of clothing. Their sizes are as follows:

  • William:
    • Shirt: large
    • Pants: 31/36
    • Shoes: 11 ½
  • Elise:
    • Shirt: small
    • Pants: 0
    • Shoes: 7

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