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'Gone in 10 minutes': Okeechobee woman loses home in fast-moving fire, looks to community for help

At-home caretaker struggles to make ends meet after losing everything in Mother's Day weekend fire
Posted at 10:47 PM, May 21, 2024

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — Dana Sewell of Okeechobee County fought back tears as she recalled a house fire that took everything from her on Mother’s Day weekend.

"Fifty-five years of my life gone in 10 minutes," Sewell said.

She said she came home to smoke, but before she knew it, there was nothing left.

“All of sudden my bed just ignited into a big huge flame and there was nothing else I could do," she said. "There's nothing, the microwave, the TV, the DVD, my Bible, all my books, just everything, there's like legit nothing."

Adding to the loss, Sewell said insurance wasn't an option on her home. Now, the at-home caregiver is struggling to make ends meet and afford a new trailer.

Dana Sewell speaks about the devastation of losing most of her belongings in a house fire this month.
Dana Sewell speaks about the devastation of losing most of her belongings in a house fire this month.

"I'm just minute-by-minute, day-by-day because I don't know [what's next]," she said.

For now, she's staying with loved ones while trying to get back on her feet.

Her daughter, Amber Sewell, explained she's facing financial struggles of her own.

"I don't have the power level to be able to support me, my mom and my son," Amber Sewell said. "To watch my mother lose her home— I feel helpless."

Amber Sewell discusses the struggles her family is facing.
Amber Sewell discusses the struggles her family is facing.

They're leaning on their community for help to get through these difficult times.

"We're just thankful for prayers, anything anyone wants to do to help. [We're] thankful for it," Amber Sewell said.

"I'm grateful for a lot of things. I mean, I don't have a lot, but what I do have, I'm very, very grateful and very, very thankful for," added Dana Sewell. "I wouldn't have it had my community not stepped forward for me."

If you'd like to learn more or help Dana Sewell with a donation, click here to check out the GoFundMe page.