As a standout quarterback at Destrehan High School, Donovan Isom accumulated a heap of outstanding player awards. His mom, Denise, had built quite a little shrine to her only son, who headed off to Utah last season, where he redshirted as a freshman.
But all those glittering awards became a heap of melted metal last weekend when an early-morning house fire destroyed the home in Edgard that Denise and her daughter, Jazmine Smith, were sharing with Denise’s parents Murphy Isom Jr. and Sheral Isom. All four got out safely, but Murphy had to be rescued by neighbors through a back bedroom window. He was hospitalized briefly for smoke inhalation and minor burns.
The fast-moving fire apparently began in the living or dining room of the tidy home, but spread quickly. And Denise credits the house’s smoke alarms for saving all of their lives.
“All of a sudden, in my sleep I heard this beep-beep-beep,” Denise recalled. “I said, ‘That sounds like the smoke alarm. Oh. Daddy will get up and turn it off.’ It was so loud. That’s when I got up. I went toward the living room, and it was just this bright red-orange. It was completely in flames.”
Denise began yelling for the rest of her family to get out. Soon, she, her mother and her daughter were on the front lawn. But her dad was not.
“I ran back inside, but the smoke was so thick,” she said.
Denise crawled back out and to a neighbor’s house.
“Then we saw a figure in a window. It was my daddy. He was disoriented and almost done. My neighbor broke the window, and we pulled him out,” Denise said.
The house was a total loss, and the family lost everything.
“All we have is the clothes we were wearing,” Denise said.
Denise lamented the loss of her son’s trophies and awards as well as the mementoes that can never be replaced. The wall where the fire is believed to have started held the graduation photos of every child and grandchild who had graduated from high school.
In the days since, the Isom family has found out how much they mean to the River Parishes communities. Friends and family in St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes have rallied around the Isoms, gathering donations of clothing, household items and money as word spread through social media. Donations of clothing and household items are being accepted at Harry Hurst Middle School in Destrehan, Monday through Thursday, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. A GoFundMe account has been set up for the family at www.gofundme.com/y56c3bw and is accordance with NCAA rules and regulations.
Denise said even football fans in Utah have heard about the family’s plight and have been sending donations.
“The people. Oh my God, the people,” she said. “I have gotten so many phone calls and texts. I don’t even know a lot of them. People from Utah have called me. We are so blessed.”
Donovan flew in Wednesday but had not seen the house yet.
“I’m just glad everybody got out OK,” he said. “I guess I can try and replace all the awards and stuff, but my family is OK. That’s what’s important.”