Neighbors reach out to family after fire

Clothes and donations arrive as investigators probe wreckage in Durham

Staff WriterJanuary 22, 2008 

— As fire investigators continue to look into the massive blaze that obliterated a Ninth Street home on Sunday, friends of the homeowners swiftly pitched in to help out.

Antony Khamala was hospitalized Sunday morning with severe burns suffered in the blaze. His wife, Lori, who is seven months pregnant, was out of town and not injured.

A fund is being established for those who want to donate money to the couple. Donations of clothing and baby-related items are being accepted at the Student Action Farmworkers office on Pettigrew Street, and at the home of John Schelp, president of the Old West Durham Neighborhood Association, where the Khamalas' home was. By midday Monday, six bags of clothing, one marked "Maternity Wear for Lori," sat on Schelp's screened porch.

"It's a tragedy," Schelp said. "I think a lot of people are asking what they could do to help."

A restaurant, Watts Grocery on Broad Street, has pledged to donate 10 percent of its Wednesday net sales to the Khamalas.

The blaze destroyed the one-story home, leaving nothing more than a giant mess of charred wood.

Homes in the neighborhood are shoulder-to-shoulder, and the house immediately to the north was blackened on the facing side. On the other side of the Khamala home, the neighboring house's porch was strewn with charred shingles and other debris. or (919) 956-2415.

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