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Ellerbe, N.C. — Christmas will be different this year for a Richmond County family.
The McBrides traditionally celebrate the holiday at the family homestead outside Ellerbe. But the home is no more after a Dec. 8 fire.
“I used to remember us getting up,” Phillip McBride said Monday. “We’d sit here waiting for the sun to come up so we can see what we got for Christmas.”
McBride and several of his relatives have worked for years as volunteer firefighters, and they spent much of that snowy morning battling the flames that consumed the home.
“I was thinking about my daughter. She was here, and she said, ‘Daddy, you have a place to stay. You can stay with us,'” he said. “I looked at her and said, ‘Thank you, but this is home.'”
The fire also destroyed his Camaro and motorcycle. All that’s left standing is a brick fireplace.
“That’s staying. That’s going to be a memorial for Mommy and Daddy,” he said.
No one was inside during the fire, aside from Hot Rod and Sparky, McBride’s dogs. They did not survive.
“Everything else can be replaced, but they can’t be, and that hurts,” he said.
The fire came almost three months after Hurricane Florence left 3 inches of floodwaters in the McBride home.
“You don’t ever think it’d be your house, but it happens,” he said.
Now, McBride pushes through the hardship by working in his family’s auto body shop, which sits behind where the home once stood, with his brother. He said his family keeps him going.
“We’re going to make it,” he said. “It’s tough, but there’s my support.”
The family plans to spend Christmas at a relative’s house this year and hopes to be back at the homestead next year. They have started raising money to rebuild it and want to have it finished by the end of 2019.