Fire Destroys Couple’s Home Day Before Wedding

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A fire destroyed a White Bluff couple’s home Friday (July 5), the morning before they were set to get married. Family members say 14 people were inside the house, owned by Daniel Vernon and Jennifer Swain, on White Bluff Road when the flames sparked.

Multiple fire crews in Sebastian County were called out to the home at 5:45 a.m. White Bluff-Rye Hill Fire Chief Jim Almond says the fire started on the back patio of the home, but what sparked the flames is still under investigation.

"Other than the garage, it's pretty much a loss," said Chief Almond.

The couple’s home is two stories, which made it harder for firefighters to extinguish the flames. Chief Almond said the second floor and roof caved in multiple times.

"It's like stacking firewood on a big fire,” said Almond. “It's just one after the other. The one on the bottom is still burning. You get more and more fire, more and more fuel. It's really hard to get it out."

It took nearly two hours for crews to control the blaze.

Family members say Vernon woke them up after seeing the back door of the house in flames, and they were able to make it out of the home safely. The couple and their four children were in the home with eight others, including some children, who were staying there while in town for the wedding set to take place Saturday.

One of the family's two dogs escaped with the rest of the family, but they couldn't find the other, a Boxer named Taz.

"I thought he was gone," said 14-year-old Ashlynn Swain.

More than four hours after the fire started, and much to the family's surprise, Taz poked his white head out of the house window.

"I heard, 'Your dog's in the window,' and I just ran," said Ashlynn. "I was just so happy."

Family members took both dogs to the veterinarian to be checked out.

Along with the wedding, Vernon and Swain were also celebrating their one year anniversary as homeowners. The family says they still plan to travel to Eureka Springs for the weekend wedding.