Community mourns Arp reverend killed in house fire

Community mourns Arp reverend killed in house fire

ARP (KYTX) -  A local reverend loses his life in a house fire early Wednesday morning in Arp. It's Smith County's first deadly house fire this year.

The fire started before 3 a.m. and 93-year-old Rev. Leon Hackett couldn't get out in time. He lived in the mobile home for more than 30 years. Now, it's a giant pile of ash and rubble.

Rev. Leon Hackett's name, etched into the church he poured so much love into.

"I picked him up every single Sunday morning and took him to church and always took care of his yard," says neighbor and friend Rudolph Warren. 

Warren saw the reverend's house burn to the ground as firefighters scrambled to find anyone inside.

With Hackett's car sitting in his carport, a group of tight knit neighbors knew the truth. 

"Far as I know he doesn't go anywhere but to church," says neighbor Joanne Williams.

When confirmation came that Hackett was inside when his home burned, sadness spread through the streets.

"I was just upset I couldn't go back to sleep," another friend, Thelma says.

"It's going to be a great loss to the neighborhood," William shakes her head. 

Williams has a very special connection to Hackett.

"I asked him if he would marry my husband and I and he said yes. He married us in Overton at the community building," she says.

She says Hackett lived a long life full of love.

"He's a good man. He could touch and heal you," Warren says. "His birthday is next week on the 16. He'd be 94 years old."

Instead of his birthday, they'll celebrate his life, and as they say, his journey to heaven.

Hackett's caretaker, who came to help him at his house every day, tells CBS 19 she's too devastated to talk about what happened.

He has lived alone since his wife died three months ago.  He leaves behind a daughter, son and grand kids, who all live out of state. They were just in town for Mrs. Hackett's funeral, and friends say they will be back for Mr. Hackett's as well.

No funeral arrangements have been set up yet.

Smith County Fire Marshal Jim Seaton is still investigation the cause of this fire. 


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