‘It’s like a nightmare’

Published on Monday, 23 December 2013 23:33 - Written by REBECCA HOEFFNER rhoeffner@tylerpaper.com

A Kilgore native not only lost her home and her belongings in a fire in October, she lost her adult son, her “best friend,” she said.

“It’s like a nightmare,” said Jackie Sickler-Womack, 50. “You see it all the time, but I never dreamed it would happen to me. But it did.”

Calvin Sickler was 31 years old when he was killed in the fire. He was trying to climb out of a bedroom window, but got stuck and lost consciousness.

Four adults and five children were living in the house when Mrs. Sickler-Womack woke up to the early-morning fire engulfing one of the walls.

Mrs. Sickler-Womack’s other son, James Riggens, 28, tried to pull his brother out.

He was unsuccessful.

“We just had to sit across the street and watch it,” Ms. Sickler-Womack said as tears ran down her face. “(James) is taking it really hard. Sometimes he’ll just go to where the window was and cry.”

Ms. Sickler-Womack is living with her friend who lives on a neighboring street.

Her home was a total loss, and was cleared away soon after the fire by members of Forest Home Baptist Church in Kilgore.

Ms. Sickler-Womack wants a double-wide to put on the property. A company came forward to donate, but according to city ordinances, the trailer must be a 2008 model or newer.

“It was a day no one will forget,” said Ronnie Black, Mrs. Sickler-Womack’s daughter who lives a few houses away.

“Calvin was a really loving person who would do anything for anybody. I can’t believe he’s gone,” she said.

Those interested in donation funds can donate to Austin Bank, c/o Ronnie Womack, 1006 Stone Road, Kilgore, TX, 75662. Call 903-983-1584 for more information.

Those interested in donating a mobile home can contact Forest Home Baptist Church at 903-984-2117.