Jerry and Ginger Bussell were planning to stay at the Henry Horton State Park Lodge on Monday night after speaking with James Barron of the Marshall County Red Cross. That shelter was available in addition to offers from their friends.
"What can we do for you?" Jerry Hooper asked Bussell with Bussell's immediate superior, Tim Tipps, vice president of maintenance at Big G Express, standing by. Hooper has the keys to another man's house since that man is in Lansing, Mich. working for GM. Bussell took GM's buyout offer and went to work for the Shelbyville-based trucking company.
It was 1:35 p.m. Monday when the 911 call was received and dispatched from the communications room at the Marshall County Emergency Medical Services building on the bypass in Lewisburg. The fire was in the Farmington-Rich Creek Volunteer Fire Department's jurisdiction. Berlin and Chapel Hill firefighters also responded.
"We had a quick response and attack," FRCVFD Chief Adam Orr said, "so we were able to save the structure."
The Bussells are insured, so it would appear that the parents and their daughters would be able to return home. Sisters Gaby and Bequi (pronounced Becky) Bussell were visiting their grandmother's home at the time of the fire.
And as firefighters stood with the couple in their charred living room, one of the firemen with 22 years of experience made a telling observation.
"Whoever built this house, deserves a pat on the back," said the man who declined to give his name. "It's solid construction."
The doors, windows and walls were built tight.
"As we all know, fire needs air" to burn, he said. "No oxygen, no fire."
Bussell had been "out cutting wood and got off the tractor and the smoke detector was buzzing, and the next think I know, my wife is screaming, 'The house is on fire,'" the mechanic said.
Orr said Ginger Bussell had a lit candle at the living room sofa and that she put some papers on the couch and left the room.
"When she came back the couch was ablaze," Orr said.
Jerry Bussell's boss at the trucking company praised his mechanic, and the man's work ethic, saying Bussell called him to report he wasn't sure he'd make it to work Tuesday.
"I told him, 'Take care of your family,'" Tipps said.
As a former GM employee at the Spring Hill plant, Bussell is "a perfect fit" for the trucking company because of his experience in the assembly plant. "He's a valued member of our staff and a valued member of the community," Tipps said.
The Bussell's house on Wade Brown Road near its intersection with Bethberei Road.