A family of 16 is doing well just days after a house fire destroyed their Marietta home. “Everyone is coping well,” said Victoria Natt. “They talk about it of course, constantly, but everyone is coping.”
Natt and her husband Tevares Natt and their 14 children –who range in age from a newborn to 21 – all managed to escape the burning home safely. But she said they lost almost everything else in the blaze that happened about 3 a.m. Wednesday.
On Monday, the investigation into the cause of the fire was ongoing, said Capt. Dan Dupree of the Cobb County Fire Department. “It is accidental in nature but the exact cause is undetermined,” he said.
Just days before Thanksgiving, the family is living in two hotel rooms near their old home with assistance from the American Red Cross but they weren’t sure if they would be able to remain there beyond Wednesday, Victoria Natt said.
Keisha Crawford, a teacher at the local elementary school started a GoFundMe campaign with hopes of raising $25,000 to help the family with immediate expenses as well as the costs of finding a new home.
“What they need is a place to live,” Crawford said. “They don’t have a place to go.”
The Natt family had been renting the three-bedroom home on Horseshoe Bend Road SW in Marietta for nine years, said Victoria Natt, who grew up in the community. They did not have renters insurance at the time of the fire, she said.
She had just come home from the hospital on Nov. 13 with their newborn and was fast asleep when smoke and flames began spreading from the back of the house where her sons usually slept.
Fortunately, that night, the children had fallen asleep in the living room while watching a movie, she said. While Tyrell, 20, roused his siblings and got them outside, his 12-year-old brother woke their mom and dad.
Natt remembered the smell of smoke. “It smelled like burning plastic. It was a weird smell,” she said.
She jumped up, grabbed the two-year-old who was sleeping in her room and ran outside. Her husband hustled out the other child who had fallen asleep in their room.
Natt was initially in shock but she began to panic when she realized their infant daughter was still in the burning home.
Her husband ran back inside to rescue the newborn. By then, the fire was burning through the walls to the bedroom where the bassinet stood next to their bed. Tevares Natt felt his way through the smoke only finding the baby when she made a noise. He came running out just in time, the mother said.
They had to borrow a phone from a neighbor passing by to call 911.
Victoria Natt and the baby went to the hospital and were released later that morning with no health concerns, she said. When she and her husband returned to the home they were able to recover some important documents -- driver’s licenses, birth certificates, social security cards -- but everything else was lost including the car seats Natt uses in the family SUV, their sole means of transportation.
They had been looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving at their home as they always have, but now the future is uncertain.
“I was planning to cook for the holiday and that is what the children have been talking about, but that is out the window,” Natt said.
Crawford, who has taught some of the Natt children at Hollydale Elementary said she is moved by the family’s positive spirit. “They are some of the most positive, happy and most humble people I have ever seen,” Crawford said.
By Monday afternoon, GoFundMe donors had given more than the initial $10,000 Crawford requested to help the family. The family was also connecting with other local organizations to help with clothing, toiletries and food. While they hope to extend their stay at the hotel at least through the Thanksgiving holiday, Natt said she and her husband are focused on finding another home, hopefully in the same neighborhood.
They are grateful for the assistance that friends and strangers have offered to their family and grateful they all managed to escape the fire unharmed.
“Most of the people that know us know that we are a good family and we never ask for anything,” she said. “I am just grateful everyone made it out.”