Firefighters battle high wind and cold weather in addition to the flames at the home of Joshua and Danielle Lyde on New Year’s Eve. The fire at the home, on La. Hwy 1188 outside of Hessmer, started in the attic. The cause is still undetermined but is not deemed “suspicious.” The home sustained major fire, smoke and water damage. The Lydes lost much of their belongings, but there were no injuries in the incident. {(Photo by Nancy Savoy}

Hessmer family thankful despite housefire

As Josh and Danielle Lyde were relaxing with their two daughters around 8:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, a knock at the door may have saved their lives.

Bobby Ponthier and Trisha Dauzat were driving by and noticed flames coming from the Lydes’ attic. They went to the door and told the family the house was on fire.

The Lydes were able to grab a few irreplaceable items, get their girls Megan and Madison to safety and call 911. Minutes later units from Hessmer, Bunkie and Mansura were on the scene at the house on La. Hwy 1188 -- the highway connecting La. Hwy 114 and La. Hwy 115, bypassing Hessmer. Individual volunteers from Evergreen also came to assist.

The house sustained major damage, mostly to the attic and roof, Hessmer Fire Chief Quinn Drouin said. The family lost much of their possessions to fire, smoke and water damage.

The fire’s cause is still undetermined “but it definitely started in the attic,” Drouin said. The fire is still under investigation but is not considered “suspicious,” Drouin said.

Despite the tragedy, Danielle expressed thanks in a Facebook message on New Year’s Day.

“As I lay here in bed listening to kids snore, and Josh too, all I can say is how thankful I am,” she wrote. “Tonight we lost our home and our belongings in a housefire. Just a few weeks ago we found out that someone we work with lost their home and we went right to getting clothes and necessities and got it to them. And here we are, just a few short weeks in the same predicament.”

She said she is “very thankful for the couple who came knocking on our door to let us know our home was on fire. We were in the home and had no clue.”

She also expressed thanks to the firefighters who battled high winds, cold weather and the difficult fire.

“I am thankful to my family and friends -- too many to share,” Danielle continued. “You know who you are.

“Keep the prayers coming ‘cause we need them.”

Ponthier, who lives not far from the Lydes, said he and his girlfriend “stopped when we saw the flames. I thought someone was home because both cars were there.”

He said the fire intensified just after the family left the house.

“I went back the next day and she (Danielle) said, ‘Thank you for saving our lives.’ I told her that I didn’t think of it as saving their lives. I just saw something was wrong and stepped in to do what I could.”

‘OUTPOURING' OF AID

Danielle said there has been an “outpouring from the community.”

St. Mary’s School and St. Mary’s Church have mounted efforts to help. Krazy Katie’s convenience store, located at the intersection of La. Hwy 1188 and 114, has also been collecting items for the family. Her co-workers at Mid-Louisiana Surgical Specialists have also been helping the family.

“People have been dropping things off for us at Shawn’s Supercenter, where my aunt Annette James works,” Danielle said. “Marksville Ministry Outreach also gave us a lot of things.”

Megan turned 11 on Dec. 1 and Madison had her 6th birthday on Dec. 22.

“We lost birthday and Christmas gifts in the fire,” Danielle said. “People asked ‘What did they (girls) get for Christmas?’ Those gifts have been replaced or are being replaced.

“It is amazing the response we have received from people, from random people that do not know us,” she said.

She singled out neighbors John and Patricia Tucker, friends Betty and Fred Mayeux and optometrist Dr. Christie Goudeau for special thanks. Goudeau replaced a pair of Megan’s glasses that were damaged in the fire.

The Lydes are staying with Danielle’s father, Elliott Guilbeau, in Marksville, “until we find another place.”

Josh and Danielle were able to go back to the remnants of their house late last week to try to see what can be salvaged.

“The house is a total loss,” she said. "Some things that had water and smoke damage may be able to be saved. We lost most of everything we had.”

The investigator was also at the house that day, trying to determine what caused the fire.

“He told us he is not sure yet, but that it definitely started in the attic,” Danielle noted.

She said donations of clothes have met all of the family’s needs in that area. Special donations have taken care of the children’s needs for toys to replace those lost in the fire.

“At this time, all we need are the everyday things,” she said. “I guess we don’t need anything in particular, but everything imaginable.”

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