Family thankful for friends, strangers after Johns Island house fire

A Johns Island family who lost everything in a house fire wants to thank their community for the love and support shown to them during the hardship.
Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 4:43 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 14, 2023 at 10:58 PM EST
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JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - A Johns Island family who lost everything in a house fire wants to thank their community for the love and support shown to them during the hardship.

The fire happened on Dunwick Drive on Johns Island just before 5 a.m. Sunday.

The Barnett family says they are the “luckiest unlucky people.”

Homeowner David Barnett said he’s just glad his family is alive. The family was celebrating their children’s birthdays over the weekend and had family and friends visiting. Seven people staying at the home the night of the fire escaped, and no one was injured.

Looking at the exposed structure of the house covered in black ash, son Parker Barnett said that’s not what’s important.

“I mean the house doesn’t matter. Everyone is alive, that’s the biggest part. I could care less about the house,” Parker said.

The family was able to rescue one of their dogs, Ellie. Daughter Laurel Barnett held the small dog while she talked about the night. She said their Doberman Lilly didn’t come out with them, but a few hours after the blaze was put out, firefighters found Lilly alive among the rubble.

“It took a lot of pressure off of me for sure because she just used to follow me everywhere and it did not feel right without her but it’s much better now,” Laurel said.

The family said the past few days have been difficult and a whirlwind as they assess the damage and try to understand what their future holds.

It didn’t take long for the community to jump into action, ready to help the Barnetts with whatever they need. A neighbor started a fundraiser that earned more than $30,000 in a few days. People are also collecting clothes in the family’s sizes.

“We’re grateful that we live in such a community that in time of need comes together and lifts everyone up, we’re just so thankful,” David said.

David is a chef at Stono Market and Tomato Shed Café. Restaurant owner Barbara Ambrose said she knows the family well.

“Dave’s been with us for 15 years almost. So, we’ve watched his children be born, grow up... We learned to love his wife, Jen, they’re really wonderful people,” Ambrose said.

Ambrose shared the ways to support the family on the restaurant Facebook page and said she shared a message for them from the team and their friends.

“We love you. We are so glad that y’all are OK. And that’s the most important thing, but everybody wants to know what they can do to support you and to help your family get back on their feet again. So let us know,” Ambrose said.

The Barnett family wished to thank everyone who has donated money or clothes to their cause. They say it’s amazing to see family and friends care about them and it puts things into perspective for them.