Family celebrates milestone despite tragedy - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Couple celebrates 20th wedding anniversary despite tragedy

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Darryl Stephens and his wife were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary over lunch when their condo was destroyed by fire Tuesday. (abc3340.com) Darryl Stephens and his wife were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary over lunch when their condo was destroyed by fire Tuesday. (abc3340.com)
Homewood Fire and Rescue battling a fire at Vulcan Park Condominiums Tuesday. (abc3340.com) Homewood Fire and Rescue battling a fire at Vulcan Park Condominiums Tuesday. (abc3340.com)

Some Homewood families may have to look for new homes after a fire started in the Vulcan Park Condos' along Valley Avenue. No one was hurt, but eight units are damaged, some worse than others. The blaze even led to an anniversary one couple will never forget.

"My wife went out to eat about 12 and apparently it caught fire while we were gone." Darryl Stephens and his wife were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary over lunch. Their special day, tarnished by fire. They lost everything.. except what counts. "My son was in school, my wife and I were out of it. So we got our life and that's the most important thing."

"The first crew to arrive on the scene saw heavy smoke. We laid lines and began to attack the fire." Homewood Fire Chief John Bresnan says the entire 1720 building at Vulcan Park Condominiums is damaged. The 8 units affected are impacted by either smoke, water or heat damage. Stephens says he was told the fire may have started in his apartment. Stephens says ."It started in an upstairs bedroom, maybe in the closet area or over where the TV sits."

Resident Chris Francis says "Luckily, I was at work and got a call the place was on fire, came home and luckily it didn't get all the way to our place. There's smoke damage and everything, but luckily nothing got burned." Many residents now counting their blessings.

As for the Stephens, fire didn't take all their joy. The American Red Cross helped Darryl surprise his wife Cynthia.. with a special anniversary cake at a motel. Cynthia says "I woke up excited about my anniversary and then the tragedy came. It was a roller coaster at first, but when I looked into his eyes, I knew everything was going to be okay."

The couple is now embarking on a new future. Daryl Stephens says "We'll just make more memories and go for higher heights and we'll be better for this. I'm still in love."

Chief Bresnan did not know if all the units were occupied. The Red Cross says at least four families have requested assistance so far. So far, the cause of the fire has not been determined.

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