COLUMBIA, Miss. (WHLT) – A Navy veteran lost his Columbia home in a fire. The fire destroyed James “Poppy” Watkins’ home on Friday, November 10.
“My friend, who lives over there, came and told me my place was on fire. When we came out and looked, there was nothing we could do. I lost everything. There was nothing. No, nothing. Just a pile of ashes,” said Watkins.
Watkins, who served in Vietnam, said it only took eight minutes for the fire to destroy his RV home and take away a lifetime of irreplaceable memories.
“My military items. My wife, she died back in 2020. I had pictures of her. I can’t get them back. Her family doesn’t even have pictures like that. Our wedding pictures. My collections, things like that,” he said.
Leslie Vines, a friend of Watkins, said she felt helpless watching his home burn.
“It’s just devastating. My husband and my nephew got the water hoses because they tried to get it put out and couldn’t. It was engulfed,” Vines stated.
She started a GoFundMe to help Watkins get back on his feet.
“He’s only got a few suits of clothes. He needs clothes, he needs appliances, he needs lumber,” Vines said.
Despite the losses, Watkins said he’s focused on getting a new home.
“My mind is not focusing on anything else right now. I’m just trying to get a new place in here right now. That’s the main thing,” he said.
Watkins said firefighters believe the fire started due to an electrical failure.