A family said they lost everything but the clothes on their backs after a suspected arson at their home in Jacksonville’s Springfield neighborhood.
Eugene Howard was arrested on Thursday night after the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said he started the fire at his ex-wife’s house after beating her.
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“She was coughing up blood, bleeding from her face and kids were crying, everybody was crying,” the victim’s sister, Ami Combs, said.
On Monday, the city condemned the house.
Combs said her sister and her five children lost more than just their dog Angel and cat Soft Paws in the fire.
“They lost family heirlooms, pictures, all of their identifications, school IDs, birth certificates – everything you can think of. It’s not just furniture. It’s everything. So we have to replace it all,” Combs said.
Combs said that over time, the family’s belongings can be replaced, but their memories can’t.
“The kids are still having nightmares. I’m still having nightmares. My sister, she can’t sleep. Every time she closes her eyes, she’s seeing the fire. It’s not going to go away any time soon,” Combs said.
Howard is charged with domestic battery, arson and intentionally causing a cruel death to animals.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page. Donations can also be made to St. Matthew’s Lutheran in Arlington.