Community, football team pitch in to help family devastated by house fire

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — This week, people in Williamsburg worked together to get a family whose house burned down back on their feet.

The rebuilding began with a push from the College of William & Mary football team.

Piece by piece, Michael Gray’s burned out home is coming down. It started in December, when kerosene from their wood stove started a ferocious fire.

“We lost the dog,” Gray said. “I imagine the dog was trying to alert people.”

Gray was out of the area. He rushed home to find the house destroyed.

“The house was totally destroyed by then. My wife was headed to the hospital and that was where we’ve been ever since,” he said.

Woman remains hospitalized a week after Williamsburg house fire

Starting that week, Williamsburg Housing Partnerships found Gray temporary places to stay. But, no home is like your own and he can’t start to rebuild until he tears the old house down. To get started, he called Housing Partnerships.

“A man said, ‘How many people do you need?’ I said, ‘I need about eight,'” Gray explained. “He said, ‘How about the whole William & Mary football team?'”

On William and Mary’s day of service, linemen traded blocking sleds for sledgehammers. The school’s cheerleaders broke down the burned out walls. Piece by piece, they tossed the decayed home into a dumpster.

Housing Partnerships’ Brandi Weiler stood by, overseeing the athletes work. The group supplied the tools and a dumpster. Weiler said next they want to start on a permanent home for Gray and his wife.

“We’ll see if we can get donors,” she said. “We’ll see if we can get area contractors to help out.”

As each beam comes down, Gray feels closer to a new home.

“My vision is to be able to turn that key by the spring of this year, that’s what I’m working towards,” Michael Gray beamed.

At least for this day, he’s not working alone. It’s a team effort.