BROOKSVILLE — As modest a dwelling as it was, it was still home to Diana Taylor. She had lived there nearly all her life, first as a daughter, then for the past 40 years as a wife, mother and grandmother.
But while Taylor and her husband, Kenneth, were at the Brooksville Regional Hospital emergency room on Monday, a spark, which investigators say came from an air-conditioning unit, set fire to the mobile home at 13280 Montour St., west of Brooksville. The couple returned to find firefighters hosing down its blackened remains.
The blaze destroyed not only all of the Taylors' belongings, but those of the four grandchildren who lived with them.
The couple's 1-year-old Pomeranian puppy, Joy, died in the fire.
"It's a very sad time for us right now," Kenneth Taylor, 68, said Tuesday from the room at the Holiday Inn Express where the family has been staying since the fire. "I went over this morning to try to clean up at least a little, but it's so hard. There's really nothing left."
Diana Taylor, 56, said she has yet to return to the structure, and isn't sure she wants to.
"We have a lot of memories there," she said. "We raised four children, had barbecues, birthday parties, Christmases, and a lot of fun there. It was our little piece of the world."
For the past several years, the couple has been raising their four grandchildren: Dakota, 12; Shyanna, 10; Christopher, 8, and Sierra, 7. Kenneth said the tragedy has hit them hard.
But through it all, the couple said, they are learning about the kindness of friends, family and strangers.
The outpouring of help began even as the firefighters were completing their work at the scene. The American Red Cross paid for three days of lodging and has provided them with some cash to buy food and clothing. And Kenneth said friends and family members are helping them contact some agencies that can offer additional assistance.
The Taylors, both of whom are disabled, say they plan to rebuild, but it won't be easy. To make ends meet, they were forced to drop the insurance on their mobile home two years ago.
"We're going to have to figure it all out," Kenneth said. "But somehow, we're going make it happen."
Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or [email protected]