Total devastation

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A family mourns the loss of their home

By John Whitlock

A weekend fire has left an Owen County family homeless.

Four different fire departments responded to a blaze at 745 Vance O’Banion Lane at approximately 9 p.m. Sunday.

When firefighters arrived at the home of Marc and Bonnie Cooke, the blaze had already spread throughout much of the home.

Units from Jonesville, Monterey, Owenton/Owen County and New Liberty were unable to save the home.

Charlie Riddle, chief of Owen County Fire Department, called the fire a “total loss” for the Cooks and their four children – Trigg, 14; Suzanna, 11; Willie, 9; and Colton, 4.

Owenton Mayor David “Milkweed” Wotier, who was on the scene and knows the Cooke family, said the fire left little standing in the home and most of the family’s possessions were destroyed.

“They were able to save a few items, but it’s totally gone,” Wotier said.

Riddle said crews stayed on the scene for over 14 hours, putting out flare-ups, dousing hot spots and surveying the scene.

Riddle said no one, including the firefighters, were injured during the blaze.

Wotier said the Cooke family stayed with relatives following the fire but they will move to an area hotel soon with the aid of the Red Cross until more permanent arrangements can be made.

“We got them some clothes for the night,” Wotier said.

A devastated Marc Cooke choked back tears as he talked about the home, which was built in 1929.

His mother, Zula O’Banion Cooke, was born in the home.

“Right there, in that front room,” Marc said as he pointed to the front of the collapsed home.

Although the official cause of the fire hasn’t been determined, Marc Cooke said a wood-burning stove fell through the floor, pulling the flume away and sending flames shooting into Trigg Cooke’s bedroom.

“He came and got me. Me and him were trying to throw water on it,” Marc Cooke said. “There was nothing we could do.”

Monday afternoon, the Cooke family met with insurance agents to assess the damage.

In hopes of smothering the remaining hot spots, firefighters used earth movers to push around the debris. Bonnie Cooke gathered a few more possessions from piles of rubble.

Despite his emotion, Marc Cooke said he was determined to move forward.

“We will rebuild,” Marc Cooke said. “There will be a home here again.”