Things can be replaced, but life is irreplaceable. Her family said they are forever grateful to her caretaker for saving her.
Sevier County, Tenn. A Sevier County woman was stuck in her home when a massive fire broke out in the Hatcher Mountain area on Wednesday.
In her mid-sixties, Janice McCarter was disabled and unable to drive, which eventually led to her being trapped on a hilltop.
Near her secluded home, Shauna Carr was cleaning out rental cabins when the fire broke out. Carr has befriended Janice over her years as her chief caregiver at Hatcher Moutain, saying that Janice is the only permanent resident on that street. Carr said the fire was frightening, but she didn’t leave that mountain without McCarter.
“She lost all the memories, the clothes, whatever she had, you know, her whole life turned upside down in a matter of minutes,” Carr said.
Surrounded by a rental cabin on Laurel Valley Road, what remains of Janice McCarter’s home lies forever.
“It was all happening so fast,” Carr said. “It went from just a small fire burning to the whole mountain from what I could see.”
Carr becomes responsible for McCarter’s care, getting groceries and medicines while helping her take care of the house.
“I don’t think she would have been able to get out. Janice didn’t have any kind of transportation, you know, she doesn’t have a car,” Carr said.
Fortunately, they were able to get down the mountain safely together, but Janice lost her home and all of her possessions.
“The rental cabins I clean up on that side of the mountain were still standing,” Carr said. “I definitely thought it was going to be okay. I was really shocked when I found out when I got back down the mountain that he was gone.”
Now all that stands is a chimney. McCarter’s cabin was the only apartment house on the street, and the only one to be burned.
“It’s a devastating loss for our entire family,” her daughter, Kelly Nippenverg, said. “She lost her gait and her wheelchair and everything.”
She also lost her beloved cat, Miss Kitty. Carr said they tried to return to the mountain to retrieve Miss Kitty, but the police would not allow them to cross the barricades due to the dangerous conditions.
“That’s all you could ask for is a cat, but it was dangerous and we had to go,” Carr said.
Knippenverg said her memories of the cabin are unparalleled to this day. She said that the memory of her grandfather was in that house.
“My grandfather built that house when he was still alive as a replica of his childhood home,” Knippenverg said.
She said things can be exchanged, but her mother’s life is irreplaceable, and she is forever grateful to Carr for saving her.
“I am so grateful to her for saving my mother’s life,” Knippenverg said. “I don’t think anyone would ever have found her.”
“There’s a lot more than just cabins for rent in these mountains, you know, these are people’s homes,” Carr said. “People’s lives have been turned upside down.”
The McCarters said she had no home insurance – she had lost everything including her cat, her clothes, her shoes, her memories and her belongings. The family began collecting donations for her. If you would like to donate, click here.