Church steps in to help handicapped man rebuild after fire - WNCN: News, Weather

Four Oaks Church steps in to help handicapped man rebuild after fire

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Keith Norris' home was completely destroyed in an overnight fire in Four Oaks. (Dan West, WNCN) Keith Norris' home was completely destroyed in an overnight fire in Four Oaks. (Dan West, WNCN)
FOUR OAKS, N.C. -

A local man bound to a wheelchair is thankful to be alive today after his home burned to the ground overnight.

It all happened so quickly, Keith Norris said, explaining that his fire extinguisher was broken and pitchers of water did little to help to douse the fire in his Four Oaks home.

"My fire alarm went off, I looked in my living room and saw flames in the living room," recalled Norris, who is wheelchair-bound. "It got bigger and bigger -- flames were just rolling, smoke just rolling and it was all I could do to get out."

But he may not have gotten out if his church hadn't donated a wheelchair ramp earlier this year when he told his pastor he had to have his leg amputated.

"Before I even got home, they had that ramp up for me," Norris said.

Tuesday night, 10 months after his church installed the ramp, that ramp helped bring him to safety as a fire consumed his home.

"I just took off in my wheelchair down the road," Norris said, explaining that he wheeled a quarter of a mile down the road to his nearest neighbor. "I had on a pair of shorts -- no shirt, no shoes, no nothing."

Norris said it took him an hour and a half to get to his neighbor.

"What else was I going to do? Sit there in my wheelchair and look at my house burn down?" he said.

His home is a total loss, but his church is once again stepping in to help, this time by setting up a fund to re-build Norris' home and relocating his ramp to his mother's house.

"It's a portable ramp, so we can tear it down and set it up," explained Pastor John Norman, with First Baptist Church of Four Oaks. "Take it location to location."

Norris said, "When you have a church family, you've got everything."

To help Norris out, donations can be sent to:

The Keith Norris Fund
c/o 1st Baptist Church Four Oaks
PO Box 717
Four Oaks, N.C. 27524

Melanie Sanders

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