Police officer Chris Sherrill is a former firefighter, but on Sunday he could only watch as flames engulfed the home where he lives with his soon-to-be wife.
A fire that started on the back deck was whipped by winds that swept flames into the attic, destroying the roof and interior of the house — including the spare bedroom where his fiance had stored their wedding gifts, Fire Chief Jody Hatten said. The couple planned to marry in three weeks.
“Everything was going their way, they were happy and excited and now this,” Hatten said. “It’s a tough time for them with a lot of emotions.”
Sherrill said he was taking a shower Sunday before going to work when he heard a loud “pop” on the deck. He thought his soon-to-be father-in-law was moving things around. Sherrill soon went outside and realized the deck was on fire.
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He made sure his fiance and his dogs got out of the house and tried to to go around back to get a water hose.
“I wanted to fight the fire, but I had nothing to fight it with,” Sherrill said Monday.
“It’s my instinct to run into a fire but I realized, ‘I’m the victim this time. You need to get out of the house.’”
Police and firefighters received a call about 8:30 a.m. Along with Wiggins police and fire, officers from Picayune, Stone County and others responded.
“They came from all over,” Sherill said. “The community really showed up and showed out the support. It was very heartfelt, very overwhelming.”
The fire was in the attic and shooting through the roof when firefighters arrived, Hatten said. They weren’t able to save the home.
“I had to sit back and watch my own house burn,” Sherrill said.
‘He truly loves his job’
Sherrill had been a firefighter in Wiggins and Poplarville before he joined the Wiggins Police Department a few months ago. He became a reserve Wiggins police officer in July 2016 while working as a firefighter.
“He’s not from Wiggins originally, but he’s settled down here and he’s all about Wiggins,” Hatten said, describing Sherrill as “a great guy, very funny, energetic and always willing to help others.”
Sherrill is a beloved member of the police department and has strong bonds with area firefighters, Deputy Police Chief Jeff Thomas said. Also, his fiance’s father works for the Stone County Sheriff’s Department.
“He’s always the one that picks up the crowd,” Thomas said of Sherrill.
“He’s from Louisiana and has that Louisiana Cajun accent, and he’s loud and funny. He’s hilarious and a genuinely nice guy. And he truly loves his job.”
Sherrill had been trying to do some remodeling work on the home, Hatten said, which is near the fire station. The house was insured but there’s a deductible and the couple will have to find a place to live, he said.
“I think they’re more worried about the wedding than the house,” he said.
Friends are raising money and trying to help Sherrill get back on his feet so he and his bride-to-be can start their life together.
Thomas L. Reynolds posted a fundraiser on Facebook and it had raised $4,906 of an $8,000 goal within 24 hours.
A GoFundMe account also has been set up. You can access that account by going to gofundme.com and searching “Officer Chris Sherrill.” That account had raised $770 toward a $5,000 goal as of Monday morning.
Reynolds, in a Facebook post, said Sherrill “is a pillar of his community and should have the support of a loving community, friends and family.”
The cause of the fire has not been determined but is under investigation.