Ellendale Family Tries to Rebuild After Devastating Fire - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Ellendale Family Tries to Rebuild After Devastating Fire

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Ellendale home of Elizabeth Dukes is destroyed by Wednesday morning blaze (Photo: WBOC) Ellendale home of Elizabeth Dukes is destroyed by Wednesday morning blaze (Photo: WBOC)
Major destruction is visible at the Ellendale home of Elizabeth Dukes. (Photo: WBOC) Major destruction is visible at the Ellendale home of Elizabeth Dukes. (Photo: WBOC)

ELLENDALE, Del.- During an average night, Elizabeth Dukes would have been fast asleep in her bed inside of her Ellendale home at 2:30 a.m. But early Wednesday morning, when a fire broke out, she was miles away. That is because Dukes left a church meeting late on Tuesday night, and so decided to spend the night at a Lewes hotel. 

"I'm so glad me and my son were not in there," Dukes said. 

Dukes joined WBOC on Wednesday morning, in front of her now ash-covered home on Holy Church Lane in Ellendale. The house, which her now deceased husband built nearly 50 years ago, is in ruins after the fire. Eight hours after the fire began, smoke still billows out of the remains, and the entire structure of the home is leveled. Meanwhile, the interior is burned to a crisp.

"I feel devastated," Dukes said. "I feel like my world has crumbled down." 

Dukes was joined by nearly a dozen family members, including her children. The family said the destruction appeared to be caused by an electrical fire. The Delaware State Marshal's Office has not yet announced the cause of the fire.

Duke's daughter Janet Watson said that it is painful to see all the destruction. 

"It's very sad," she said. "I mean, to see your whole life - your whole life's work in ruins. It's burnt to the ground." 

Watson said that the fire is especially painful, with the holidays around the corner. 

"This was the gathering spot for the entire family," she said. "Mom's house was the meeting. It was the anchor. It was the glue that kept the entire family together. So to have to rebuild and move on is very hard." 

Dukes brother-in-law Rozell Dukes helped build the home in the late-1950s. Now he said he feels like he lost a connection to his brother. 

"We used to do a lot of stuff back there," Dukes said, with a laugh. "Barbecue hogs, raise hogs, chicken. This was home. And I mean, we're going to miss it." 

Another son, Samuel Dukes, said that the silver lining is that his mother is still alive. Regardless, he said the family will now look to the future.

"We helped build it once..." he said. "So now we have to do it again. 

If you want to help, you can do so by visiting the Sussex County Federal Credit Union. Watson has established a trust fund, under the name Janet Watson House Fire Trust. The account number for this trust is 222065436. 

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