FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – A 3-year-old is the reason Kimberlin Smith said her family is alive today.
“All I know, the first thing that came to me was get your kids and get out,” said the mother of three.
Smith, who lived on Jacob Street with her fiancé and three young children ages 3, 1 and 9 months, said a fire started in the home on Sept. 22 while the family was taking an afternoon nap. Smith said the kids had been playing all day and needed some rest.
“We had just gotten new fire alarms when the fire trucks were going around handing them out,” said Smith.
However, Smith said the smoke detectors never went off. She said she never heard, smelled or saw anything until her 3-year-old started crying for help.
Smith said it’s not unusual for her toddler to wake her up with cries.
“The screams sounded different, like more in pain and alert,” said Smith.
After running to her son’s room, Smith said her heart dropped.
“All we saw was Clinton trying to climb out of his crib and I looked behind him and there’s fire and smoke.”
Without hesitation, Smith said she woke her fiancé and grabbed her babies. The family made it safely out of the home but soon realized they lost their home, their car and even their dog named “Trouble” when part of the home’s roof collapsed. Neighbors had rushed over to help by providing blankets, clothes and calling the fire department.
“We were building our family together, we were building our own life, and the fact that everything we had worked hard for was gone, everything,” said Smith with tears in her eyes.
The Fayetteville mother said they’ve been able to receive assistance from the American Red Cross and are currently living in a hotel. She said, unfortunately, it’s not the first time her family has been homeless.
Smith said it’s been difficult to see the light but knows one thing, she has her family. The mother of three said she has her son, Clinton, to thank.
“If it wasn’t for Clinton, we wouldn’t have made it out. Because of him, we’re okay.”
Detectives with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office had investigated the fire but said the cause is undetermined.
Smith created a GoFundMe to help with the aftermath of the fire.