Family loses home to fire

John Watkins hugs his sister-in-law Amy McGrew after Watkins' mobile home was destroyed by fire Wednesday.

A dozen firefighters battled fierce winds and flames Wednesday afternoon as fire raced through a mobile home in North Charleston and left destruction in its path.

Amanda Watkins watched, shaking and puffing nervously at her cigarette, as the blaze consumed all of her family's belongings. She spotted one of her four children standing nearby and pointed at his socked feet.

"What is he going to do with no shoes?" she cried.

Watkins was inside with the children about 3:45 p.m., when the fire began in a rear bedroom of the home on Stafford Road off Ashley Phosphate Road. "It had to be electrical," she said.

She said a garden hose had little effect. The National Weather Service in Charleston said winds were 25 to 35 mph with gusts as fast as 40 mph. They fueled the fire, which quickly engulfed the interior of the home from end to end.

"My whole trailer is on fire," Watkins told a caller on her cell phone. "It's gone."

At times, the water flowing from the firefighters' hoses seemed pointless. Gusts sprayed it in all directions.

"That's why they were having a heck of a time putting it out," said fire Battalion Chief Eric Phillips, but he credited the firefighters with saving an adjacent home.

Watkins and her husband, John Watkins, had been sleeping in the living room so their four children could share the two bedrooms of the 1979 mobile home. It was paid off, but no one would insure it because it was too old, Amanda Watkins said.

The couple's children are Brandon Watkins, 15; John Watkins Jr., 12; Devon Watkins 11; and Tyler Watkins, 8. They have family in the area, and the Lowcountry Chapter of the American Red Cross was en route to help.

Amanda Watkins drives an ice-cream truck part time, and John Watkins works for Bozzelli Services Heating & Air Conditioning Co. The couple had bought the children an Xbox 360 and two television sets for Christmas.