The victim of a house fire in Monroe on Wednesday was incorrectly identified as a veteran. Ben Harden is in fact a member of the American Legion through his membership in the Sons of the American Legion.
“I am not a veteran myself, but the American Legion is helping me because of my membership through the Sons of the American Legion,” Harden said.
According to Monroe Assistant Fire Chief Bill Owens, the home on Plantation Drive that was burned in the fire was a total loss and Harden has lost pretty much everything that was in the home. Firefighters did manage to retrieve an American flag, but it too was badly damaged by the fire. Harden was not in the home at the time, but was in fact at the American Legion. He is getting help from the American Legion as well as the Red Cross.
“They are helping me with clothes and someone has started a Gofundme page,” Harden said.
Initial story (with corrections)
Firefighters with Monroe Fire Department and Walton County Fire Rescue searched a home on Plantation Drive in Monroe Wednesday afternoon for fear that the man who lived there could still be inside. Fortunately he was located elsewhere.
“He was displaced. The Red Cross is helping him with a place to stay and his other immediate needs,” said Lt. Bill Owens, Assist. Fire Chief for MFD. “I do believe the home is going to be a total loss.”
Owens said the cause of the fire is believed to be accidental, likely an unintentional electrical power issue. Owens said at this time he is not aware of any organization that may be helping the homeowner other than the American Red Cross.
“There may be, but I’m not aware of any,” Owens said.
Officials said they arrived on scene to find the house heavily involved with smoke. During the search, a partially burned American flag was located and retrieved by firefighter Alex Gibson, himself a Marine.
“He gave it to the homeowner. They attempted to retire it properly, but it was too damaged by the fire, so they did the best they could,” said WCFR Capt. Jeff Allen.