Taylor County Basketball Coach loses home to generator fire just after Hurricane Idalia

Family loses home to fire days after surviving hurricane
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 11:24 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - For one Taylor County couple, it wasn’t the wind or the water from Hurricane Idalia that destroyed everything. It was an early-morning fire days later that changed their lives.

The home of Taylor County Basketball Coach Jimmy and his wife Tambra Blankenship was a complete loss because of a generator fire.

Jimmy Blankenship is the current coach for the Taylor County boys’ basketball team, but he has been in a coaching position at Lafayette and Taylor County Schools for the past three decades.

But for the first time in a long time, his focus has had to switch from the building young lives to rebuilding his own as he works to restore his home base.

“We were blessed thinking the main house was fine and everything was good there,” Jimmy Blankenship said.

The couple returned to their home after fleeing from Hurricane Idalia to find the house barely damaged, something they called a blessing.

“We were worried because we have so many pines, that it would be on the house, but when we came down here we found out it had hit the porch and the garage and a part of the front garage but that was the damage,” Blankenship said.

Settling back into their home post-storm, the Blankenships relied on generators for their everyday needs.

“We had two generators out front, we had one on the pump house, and we only ran that whenever we needed to shower and they were running fine,” Jimmy Blankenship said.

Those generators worked for the couple up to about a week after the storm when Jimmy Blankenship claims one suddenly caught fire.

“I had heard some banging and of course, the electrical people were around here and they were working, and I thought maybe that’s what it was. But then I heard a loud bang or pop or something, and I thought that wasn’t what you needed to hear,” he said.

Looking out the window, he spotted the generator engulfed in flames and then called for his wife to grab their dogs. They got out just before the home went up in flames.

“By the time we turned around, got out, people were coming to help us with fire extinguishers, and the house had caught on fire, and we stood here and watched them try to put it out,” Blankenship said. “I think my wife said it was from 10:30 to 5 o’clock and we just watched the house burn down.”

There was just one trinket Jimmy found while combing through the debris that holds a very special meaning. A gift to his mom who survived the storm of the century that destroyed his parent’s home.

“I went to my office to see what I could find, and I cleared some of my stuff up, and there were the three gators, and they were dirty but they were still there,” Blankenship said.

Jimmy said that was a sign to him that everything was going to be alright.

“We’re going to go forward and we’re going to do what we need to do to get our life back but it’s going to take time,” Blankenship said.

As far as what’s next for the Blankenships, right now they are working on clearing their land and when that’s done, they’ll start planning on rebuilding their home.

For those interested in donating to the Blankenships, the family is accepting money through their Venmo @tambrajimmyblankenship, cash app $tambrajimmyblank and through Blue Coast Federal Credit Union under special account 08 Tambra Blankenship.

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