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HomeAt Home & BeyondHouse Fire Devastates Local Couple

House Fire Devastates Local Couple

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Garry and Becky James have lived on Beggs Lane in Brooksville for the last 24 years on the property known locally as Castle Canyon. They turned what was once a limestone quarry into a home with nature trails. Becky noted that the 85-acre plot of land “hadn’t been touched in 60 years,” and they were giving it an eventful second life.

Then, on the morning of June 15, everything changed. At four in the morning, the couple’s electric four-wheelers had burst into flames after the bikes’ lithium batteries had spontaneously combusted. “We kept hearing explosion after explosion because we had four different electric bikes in there and they all exploded,” Becky said.

Before long, the James’ residence was engulfed in fire. Garry was even unable to save one of their cars as the inferno had grown too fierce to simply enter either vehicle. In total, the couple’s sentimental treasures, two cars, and Becky’s medical supplies had been destroyed as their entire home had been razed to the ground.

As the 72-year-old Becky was rendered paraplegic from a car accident in her younger years, she has various medicines and equipment that are necessary for her care. All of these things burned away in the fire, and the couple was unable to acquire more that night due to medical providers being closed. The couple narrowly escaped the inferno “with our pajamas” and little else, she lamented.

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It is a tragedy for the retired couple who have been married for over 50 years and have given so much back to the community. One way they did so was by hosting the annual Mud Endeavor on their property’ grounds. The land known as Castle Canyon was the perfect place to hold the competition.

Coordinated by Randy Yoho for a span of six years, the Mud Endeavor would see people come from around the state and across the country to take part. The festivities were so popular that their neighbor, Trinity St. Pierre, noted that there would often be “a whole line of traffic for hours down the road.” The event was in high demand.

St. Pierre described the event as a “mud race” where competitors would race through the trails carved into the ground around the couple’s property. They had since stopped hosting the event for the last couple of years in the hopes of preserving the nature on the property, but their years of hosting provided an invaluable service to the community.

St. Pierre hopes the community will give back in the couple’s time of need. She is doing her part as she is taking an active role in ameliorating the couple’s financial and emotional hardships by setting up a GoFundMe titled “Support Garry and Becky’s Rebuild After Fire.” Her campaign has a stated goal of $10,000, which would cover things such as medical supplies and various other expenses to help the couple get back on their feet.

“I just really think that it would be so meaningful to them […] if people could give as much or as little as they can to support this couple that has been supporting the county for such a long time,” said St. Pierre. “It is really important because they have absolutely nothing right now.”

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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