Atoka family loses everything to fire

Published: Oct. 31, 2017 at 9:54 PM CDT
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An Atoka woman and her 13-year-old nephew are without a place to live after a fire Monday night destroyed their home, car and belongings.

The woman is now recovering in the hospital, but her family said if it weren't for the help of some strangers, it could have been much worse.

"Who knows if they would have made it out, it's just overwhelming," Angie Bensley said.

The family of 67-year-old Melody Bensley said she built her house in Atoka more than 40 years ago.

Melody lived with her adopted 13-year-old nephew there but after a fire Monday night, 40 years of memories and belongings are now gone.

"He didn't even have his socks and shoes on, it's just really hard," Melody's daughter-in-law Angie Bensley said.

The flames started in the utility room connected to the house where the dryer was running.

It wasn't until two strangers saw the flames as they were driving by that Melody and the 13-year-old knew their home was burning.

"Some people driving down the road stopped and beat on the back door, and told them the house was on fire," Bensley said.

Melody and her nephew made it out safely, but just 12 hours later Tuesday morning, Melody had to be rushed to an Oklahoma City hospital. Her family said she's had heart issues in the past but the stress of the fire made it much worse.

"She goes above and beyond for everyone in this community, right now the main thing is her health and making sure she's okay," Bensley said.

The community she's known for helping is now helping her.

There is a bank account set up in her name and a donation drive at the school.

"She's a really good neighbor, it's really something different when you're actually watching someone's house that you care about fall apart," neighbor Timmy Clemmetsen said.

"She's always at the school volunteering time, I have no doubt that people will surround her with help," Bensley said.

The fire has been ruled accidental.

If you want to help the family, donations can be taken to the drop box at the east door of First Baptist Church in Atoka, FirstBank in Atoka or Kayla Moore or Angela Sherrill at Atoka Elementary School.