Man and son escape Kannapolis house fire

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Steve Huffman
KANNAPOLIS ó Despite having lost virtually all his earthly possessions in a house fire, George Ernwine managed to keep things in perspective Friday morning.
“The only thing I need are prayers and a house for rent,” he said.
Ernwine, 31, and his adopted son, Jesse Beam, 16, were at home about 7 p.m. Thursday when their house at 2213 Summit Ave., Kannapolis, caught fire. Ernwine said investigators told him they think the cause of the fire was faulty wiring.
Ernwine and his son deliver newspapers for the Salisbury Post, so they work early-morning hours. They were both asleep ó Ernwine in his bed and his son on a living room couch ó when the fire started.
Ernwine said the fire’s result could have been fatal had it not been for Happy, the family dog. Happy woke Ernwine’s son and the boy then woke him.
“If not for my son, I’d be completely covered in dirt by now,” Ernwine said, referring to the grave he’d have been occupying.
He said he and his son escaped to the front porch of the house and within two minutes saw the ceiling above his bedroom collapse.
The house, which was built in the 1930s, was destroyed, Ernwine said. He said the property is owned by Joyce Messer. Ernwine said Messer had homeowner’s insurance on the property, but he and his son had no renter’s insurance.
Ernwine said Friday morning that he didn’t know where he and his son would spend the night, but said Red Cross officials were working to provide them accommodations. He was awaiting a phone call from workers with the relief agency.
Ernwine is from New York and has no family in North Carolina other than his son, he said. Ernwine homeschools his son.
The notable thing about Thursday’s fire is that Ernwine managed to deliver his newspapers Friday morning. He said he first called Post Circulation Director Ron Brooks and told him he would be able to make those deliveries, regardless.
“We are seven days a week,” Ernwine said he told Brooks. “I will continue to run my route.”
Ernwine said he lost about $1,800 in the fire, as well as just about everything else he owns. But he said that was all “just stuff,” and said he was grateful that he and his boy escaped uninjured.
“Many things I had then, I don’t have now,” Ernwine said.