LOUISA COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -- A pastor and his wife were left homeless Thursday after a fire tore through their home, leaving nothing behind but ashes.
The roar of the fire rocked Pastor George Hunley's world, right down to the charred foundation. "I’m thankful to God that everyone is OK,” he said. “People can't be replaced.”
The pastor and his wife say they're a couple of years from having an empty nest. They never imagined they'd have to build a new one, because of a mishap with a turkey fryer.
"I feel responsible for what's happened,” Hunley said. “But I don't know how it happened."
The pastor says he left the turkey fryer on and went to do some work in his shed. Ten minutes later he heard a loud bang, and then found his house engulfed in flames which shot above the trees.
"The flames were over the house,” he said. “I couldn't get around it. It literally melted the lights off the back of my minivan. I had to run up the road to call 9-1-1."
The fire spread to the woods, scorching six acres of land.
Hunley's family has owned 65-plus acres here for more than 150 years. His wife says they will rebuild the house and rebound emotionally. "I’ve been crying all day. It's just devastating," Christie Hunley said.
From those ashes though, rises Hunley's resilient and faithful outlook on life. "We certainly are obeying, praying and trusting,” said Hunley. “But I'm not a slogan. I'm a man in a dirty shirt because my house burned down."
That dirty shirt, is all he has left to wear for now.
But that won't stop him from raising his hand to a higher power, one he says saved him from the destruction here on the ground.
Will he be in the pulpit Sunday?
“You bet I will,” Hunley said. “I don't know what I'll wear, but I'll be there."