CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Thomas Sessoms, a firefighter with the City of Portsmouth, puts out house fires every day. But on July 21, it was a different story when it was his house that caught on fire.
“No matter what, it’s just a terrible situation and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. When it happens to you after seeing it every day at work professionally, it’s kind of surreal to believe it’s actually happening to you,” Sessoms said.
Investigators say they believe the fire started in the HVAC unit through an electrical service disconnect in the family’s Chesapeake home.
“It started in the attic - that’s where our HVAC system is. And then it spread throughout the entire attic and spread down to the walls and the finished room in the garage, then down into the living room, dining room and den area,” Sessoms said.
The family of four was at home at the time of the fire when Sessoms was about to leave to start his shift at the fire station.
“My son said, 'I smell something burning,' and I hollered out to my wife and said, 'Whatever you’re cooking is burning.' She said she wasn’t cooking anything, and we started looking in the house and found the upstairs was full of smoke and fire.”
The family lost everything and is currently living with other family members. Firefighters at Portsmouth’s Fire Station 1 stepped up to help Sessoms and his family by creating a GoFundMe.
“We decided to do a GoFundMe to raise as much money as possible,” said Eric Allen, a firefighter with the City of Portsmouth.
Now, the family is trying to process everything.
“All of our stuff that we’ve accumulated over the last 20 years is all gone,” Sessoms said.
“Anything helps. He’s one of the best firefighters I know,” Allen said.
If you'd like to donate to the GoFundMe to help Sessoms and his family get back on their feet, click here.