Clarence Battle ran through flames after rescuing the last of his three children from a blaze that destroyed the home he and his fiancée shared.
He was hospitalized in a burn unit and the family’s fate was in limbo after the Nov. 22 fire at their home on Robinson Avenue. He and his fiancée, Kristen Handler, have three boys ages 4, 3 and 1.
He’s home with his family now — in a temporary home donated for their use at no cost.
Some Ocean Springs real estate developers became concerned about the family after reading a Sun Herald report on the fire. Business partners Joe Cloyd, Roxy Condrey and Adam Dial found the family a vacant home and offered it to them for 90 days. They accepted the offer.
We have young children, like Clarence and Kristen, and we felt the call to help this family get back on their feet.
Real estate developer Joe Cloyd
Battle and his family were living near Leo’s Wood Fired Pizza, where he works. He left the house that morning to get something to eat and came home to find the house on fire.
He walked into the house and saw flames, and paramedics were tending to him and the children when firefighters arrived, Fire Department Lt. Brad Chennault said.
The older of the kids was in the bedroom. He (Battle) pushed some burglar bars out, which is where he got his burns, and put the kid outside the window. He actually had to run through the fire to get out.
Ocean Springs Fire Lt. Brad Chennault
Battle’s lips and hands were burned. He and his fiancée had removed the two youngest children first.
“The older of the kids was in the bedroom,” Chennault said. “He pushed some burglary bars out, which is where he got his burns, and put the kid outside the window.”
Battle then ran out through the front door.
“He actually had to run through the fire to get out,” Chennault said.
The fire was heavy, so firefighters fought it from the outside until they were able to get in through the front. The fire was sparked by faulty wearing and radiant heat, Chennault said.
Battle was taken to the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile for his burns. He has since been released and is returning to USA on an outpatient basis.
Community lends a hand
Since then, the family has been starting over with the help of donations. Battle picked up a third truckload of donations held at the Fire Department. Donations have included clothes, pots and pans, and bicycles.
“Community involvement in this has been excellent,” Chennault said.
Cloyd contacted the Sun Herald, which gave him contact information provided by Fire Chief Jeffrey Ponson.
“We have young children, like Clarence and Kristen (do), and we felt the call to help this family get back on their feet,” Cloyd said. The business partners own The Roost in downtown Ocean Springs.
The couple is grateful for all the help, he said.
Battle and Handler were unable to speak to a reporter about their experience.
“They’ve been traumatized,” Cloyd said.