|By Angela Oliver, Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"I was devastated," Wilkins said.
On the morning her house caught fire, she woke up around
"I heard them and I knew something was wrong," Wilkins said. "I made the mistake of opening the door to the back room and the fumes and smoke and black soot overtook me."
Wilkins said she hurried back to her bedroom to grab her purse so she'd have her car keys. And as she was leaving the room, the window over her bed burst, letting the flames in.
"I usually don't wake up until 8 o'clock in the morning," she said. "If I had stayed in that bed just five more minutes, I wouldn't have made it. I thank the Lord for waking me up."
On Saturday, members of
"I didn't expect it," Wilkins said. "The church has already been giving me clothes like crazy and now they have gone far beyond what God requires."
Gospel performers include
The firefighters weren't able to determine the cause of the fire. Wilkins said she thinks the cats might have started it when they scratched through a cord plugged into an outlet.
Wilkins said it's hard for her to see the yard filled with the charred remains of her house. But since her children have opened their homes to her, she said she doesn't have to look back.
Wilkins now lives in
"When you lose everything, you quickly appreciate what you do have left, and that's my family," she said. "I know it's hard for them to take on another responsibility like this since they all have families of their own, but they've been so helpful and I love them."
Wilkins, a mother of five, grandmother of 14 and great-grandmother of 10, said her family keeps her spirits up. She also credits her faith in God, and her church family.
Though Wilkins escaped with no injuries, she choked up as she recalled the things she lost -- photos, mementos of her husband, and her four kittens that were trapped in the back room where the fire started. But, she tries to be optimistic.
"It takes a while to heal," she said. "But I'm 76 and still active, I have people who care about me, and I'm blessed with my health."
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