Memorial, fund set for fire victims
Two men died in a Wednesday house fire. A fund has been created for surviving relatives.
Published: Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 29, 2010 at 10:36 p.m.
A memorial service is planned for Sunday for the Island Grove father and son who apparently died in a house fire early Wednesday morning. Also, a fund has been established to help the family cover expenses.
Although the identities of the victims had not been confirmed by Friday, relatives said they are certain it was Harold Lee Wilkerson, 81, and his son, Harold Wayne Wilkerson, 53.
The two men were believed to have been alone inside the 70-year-old, wood-frame house at 20294 S.E. 219th Ave. when the fire was reported shortly after midnight Wednesday morning. A third resident, Mary Lou Wilkerson - Harold Lee's wife and Harold Wayne's mother - had driven a friend to the hospital and returned home to find the house in flames.
Firefighters from the Alachua County Department of Public Safety and volunteer firefighters from Windsor, Melrose and Cross Creek said the house was fully engulfed in flames when the first crews arrived on the scene.
Officials said it took several hours to find the remains of the men amid the charred ruins. Only the home's chimney and concrete front-porch posts remained standing following the fire.
Compounding the usual problems with trying to escape from a burning building, the Wilkersons had mobility problems, according to Michael Traugott, who was Harold Lee's nephew and Harold Wayne's cousin.
Traugott said his uncle underwent surgery several weeks ago and was still on oxygen this week. Traugott said his cousin had undergone multiple surgeries recently as part of a hip replacement and that both men had mobility problems related to their medical conditions.
A Wilkerson Relief Fund has been established for the family and will be administered by the Island Grove Baptist Church. Island Grove Postmistress Irene Welch said contributions to the fund can be sent to Island Grove Post Office, Island Grove, FL 32654.
A memorial service is planned for 3 p.m. Sunday at the Central Christian Church at 3010 N.E. 14th St. in Ocala, where Mary Lou Wilkerson teaches Sunday school.
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