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Trying to hold on

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Jim Randolph, 67, and his wife, Carol, 60, sit beside a laundry basket of clothes — their only remaining possessions — inside the Holiday Inn in Woodstock on Monday. The couple were victims of a Fort Valley fire last week and had been provided lodging by the American Red Cross. They are now facing an uncertain future. Rich Cooley/Daily

Couple who lost home in fire last week appeal to community for assistance

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- A couple who lost their home in a fire last week are appealing to the community for help.

Carol Randolf and her husband, Jim Randolph -- the reason for the different spellings is a long story, she said -- had been staying at 2758 Boliver Road early Friday morning.
They were living with their daughter, Renee Baker and her fiance, Joe Neff, in a trailer with an addition, Randolf said.

The fire was reported shortly before 1 a.m., Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue Chief Gary Yew said. It burned several vehicles in addition to the trailer.

Randolf and her husband have been staying at a Woodstock hotel since the fire, but have to be out by today, she said. The Red Cross paid for three nights, and a daughter's church another two, she said.

"We don't have any money because my husband's Social Security -- the money he gets -- the [debit] card got burned up," said Randolf, 60. "We got money in the bank, but we can't get it. We can't do that because we don't have no card, don't have no cash.
"I'm just worried about us getting a place that Jim and I can be together."

She said it will take several weeks to get another card to make the withdrawals.

Randolph, 67, is diabetic and uses a wheelchair, and he has laryngitis from smoke inhalation, she said. Their daughter is living with her fiance's parents.

Randolf said she and her husband had been living with their daughter for about three weeks. Before that, they lived with another daughter in Winchester.

"I want to try to stay here in Woodstock because I have to try to get a job eventually," Randolf said. "This year has been horrible. Jim and I ain't got a penny to our name. I don't know what to do. We can use all the help we can get."

Their daughter has given them some financial help, much of which they've used to replace their clothes, she said.

Randolf wonders if the fire was deliberately set, saying it started on the front porch. Her husband discovered the fire when he woke up in the night.

"I went out to the living room," Randolf said. "The whole front of the house was nothing but a sheet of flames."

There were smoke detectors, but they did not have batteries, she said.

The fire remains under investigation, Yew said.

"Because of the amount of destruction, it was pretty hard for them to determine exactly what may have been the origin, the cause of the fire," he said.

Any help offered by the Shenandoah County Department of Social Services is based on income levels, Director John Ayers said.

"The small amounts of money we had in the past that could be need-based regardless of income have been cut," he said.

Randolf said anyone who knows a way to help out can call her at 335-4273.

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