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‘Oh, my God, we’re homeless:’ Army veteran, family loses home to fire in VB

VIRGNIA BEACH, Va. — Imagine turning into the street of your neighborhood, only to see your home on fire.

That was a reality a few weeks ago for Wendell Sauls and his family in Virginia Beach.

On April 7, he and his family had been coming from church and lunch. They turned onto Marvell Road, greeted by smoke and flames in the distance.

Fire Sauls home

Virginia Beach Fire Department

“We came home to streets blocked off,” he told News 3’s Jay Greene. “We get out the car and [I said] ‘honey, that’s our house on fire.'”

Sauls, his wife and his daughter and grandson run toward the house they were renting.

Then, they remember—their one-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Bruno, is still inside.

“They brought him out. He was wet, shaken and scared,” Sauls said.

In the weeks following, the Red Cross provided some temporary assistance for Sauls’ family, and a neighbor helped them get a hotel room.

The Virginia Beach Fire Department said the investigation is over, and the cause of the fire is undetermined. Sauls believed inside near the fireplace.

Signs posted on the door of his home say no one can live there right now.

Fire at Sauls home

Jay Greene/WTKR News 3

A tarp is draped over the Sauls’ home.

“That’s our whole entire life in that house, he told Greene. “There’s all our memories, all our pictures, all our personal belongings. All our family memorabilia is in the house. This is where we came to, you know, settle to continue our family.”

Fire at Sauls home

Jay Greene/WTKR News 3

Damage can be seen in the rear of the home. A neighboring house also showed signs of damage.

Sauls, who spent a number of years in the U.S. Army, is also concerned about the safety of his awards and medals.

But he said his military experience has been handy over the last few weeks.

“I was a drill sergeant for a couple of years, and you know, as a soldier I adapt, overcome and move on,” he said. “I have a wife and two small children..don’t have time to sit around and mope.”

But even so, as his family tries to pick up the pieces and recover, reality sets in and everything becomes surreal.

“Oh my god we’re homeless, we’re homeless with nothing,” he said. “Now you’re in this position where you are dependent on others for your livelihood. “

Sauls said he did not have renters insurance at the time. His family just switched car insurance companies, and he had reinstated a renters’ policy. Something he encourages everyone to do.

Now, it’s faith that’s helping them get through each day.

“What are we going to do? How are we going to pick up the pieces? We lean on our faith as much as we can,” he said.

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