BROOKSVILLE — Dean and Rosie Pratt were devastated to arrive home on the evening of April 30 and find their uninsured home in flames and firefighters working to put it out.
Before the evening was over, and despite a response time of less than 10 minutes by Hernando County Fire Rescue, the couple had lost everything in the house — even the two puppies they had adopted two weeks earlier.
"I left the house at 4 o'clock to help a friend change his oil," said Dean Pratt, 28. "My wife got to the house at 6:30, and it was already in flames."
Pratt received a frantic call from his wife and sped home, arriving about 15 minutes later.
"By the time I got there, everything was up in smoke," Pratt said.
No official cause for the fire has been determined, but a fire incident report notes that no human factors contributed to its ignition.
The Pratts are newlyweds, married in October. Dean works as a business consultant for Sprint. Rosie works for Avant Air at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.
They met at Grace Bible Church in Hudson, where Dean's father is pastor and where Rosie had attended the church's Christian school.
Folks from churches in Hernando, Citrus and Pasco counties are familiar with Providence, the Christian band Dean has played in since 2004 and with which he toured nationally for about five years.
When the couple purchased the two-story house on Cedar Lane east of Brooksville for a great price at an auction last June, they felt blessed. They began work on renovating the house, which was built in 1986. The weekend of the fire, work was set to begin on the roof.
"The roof had some leaks in it, and I know it's hard to get insurance if the roof is leaking. I even had the roofing supplies in the driveway," Pratt said. "The guy was coming to install it. And it was gone a week or two before I could get insurance."
Pratt thinks the timing was too coincidental to be by chance.
"Just the way we got the house was providential, and then losing it — I'm a Christian, and this is a reminder that God gives us stuff and we should be thankful, and we should still be thankful when he takes stuff away," he said. "It was at a time when I'd just put all that recording gear in the house and nice couches, everything. The fire happening, however you want to say it, if God did it or if he let it happen, he always has our best interest in mind."
Rosie Pratt, 20, said her trust is also in God.
"We're trusting that a blessing will come out of this. We know it will," she said.
The couple, currently living with Dean Pratt's parents in Hudson, say they have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community.
"It almost feels like a team that's assembling themselves to try and help me and Rosie," Pratt said.
"It's been awesome," she said. "We didn't expect everyone to be so supportive and helpful through the whole process and everything. Everyone has been very loving. That's been great."
Pratt said the Red Cross was first on the scene to help.
"They gave us a hotel room for three nights and a car with some money to go get clothes or food," Pratt said.
His father's church has also been supportive, as well as people he works with; Family First Assembly, where several of the band members attend, and Rosie's former employer, Dawn Kiziuk, owner of Just Kidz Preschool Learning Center in Port Richey, Pratt said.
The Rev. Timothy Coats, pastor at First Family, said he has always appreciated Dean's Christian character and maturity and is impressed with the faith expressed by the Pratts.
"I've talked to them a lot since this happened," Coats said. "They've both indicated to me this is a tragedy, and they don't know what they're going to do. But Dean said he knows God is going to bring good out of this. Everything happens for a reason, and somehow God has his hand in all of this."
Coats said he is enthusiastic about getting the community's support for the couple at an event his church will sponsor May 21.
"Our desire is to be a facilitator of this event to bring everyone that knows Dean and the band Providence together to help get (the couple) back on their feet," he said.
Norma Stoeve, the church's Extended Hands Ministry coordinator, has planned the event, which will include a concert by Providence, with Pratt on the guitar.
"I had one guitar that was in the back of my wife's car," Pratt said, noting that he will borrow the other equipment he needs.
Also at the event will be cakewalks every half hour, a bake sale, pony rides, a petting zoo, kids games and a dunk tank. Baskets with a variety of items donated by individuals and local businesses will be raffled, and the youth group will provide a carwash.
Tickets for activities will be available at the event for $1 each. A meal ticket for a barbecue dinner will cost 10 tickets.
Kiziuk has planned a huge yard sale from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at her preschool.
There will be food for sale as well as numerous items donated by the families and teachers from the school.
She has also gotten a local business to agree to clear the Pratts' property at cost and has contacted Habitat for Humanity and the TV program Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to try to help with rebuilding.
"We're not stopping until they have a house," Kiziuk said. "I just want Dean and Rosie to know that there are millions of people out here who care and are willing to help."
Pratt, who said he is taking things one day at a time, is grateful.
When he went back to the burned-out house to meet with the Red Cross, he saw something that encouraged him.
"There was a bird standing on some bushes right there," he said, "and that verse came to mind where God says: 'I take care of the ravens, so how much more will I take care of you.' I just take comfort in the fact that he's in control."