Community rallies around family after deliberate fire destroys home

Fire investigators are looking for an arsonist in Haines City.

Margaret and Ferrell Williams' home on Embry Avenue went up in flames while they were at church last Sunday. The fire raced through the house and left little but a charred skeleton and blackened belongings.

It was not only a loss to them. Four generations of family members thought of it as their special place, a place of warmth where they could celebrate holidays or just hang out and feel welcome.

“God made this house with love, and that’s what I want back.” Margaret told FOX 13.

The Williams want to re-build, but are not able to rely on insurance to help. They didn’t have any. Margaret said they tried to get it, but company after company told them the house was not in good enough shape to qualify.

The Williams are getting help from the people they have helped over the years. “They have rallied around us  and held us up so much,” said Margaret tearfully.

A fundraising carwash was held over the weekend. The Hotel, a local well-known bed and breakfast, plans on holding a pulled pork dinner Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Williams are well known in Haines City because they have done so much for others.

“If you need it, you can go to Margaret’s house and get it,” explained her daughter, Betty Stratton. “If she can’t get it for you, she’ll find out how to get it.”

The Williams' home was especially festive during the holidays. It was not unusual for 60 or 70 people to show up for food, drink and fellowship.

Even though there is nothing left of their house, the Williams plan to continue their tradition this Thanksgiving with a big dinner and an open invitation to anyone who wants to come. They plan on erecting a tent with food and drink next to the rubble.

Grateful friends have also set up a Go Fund Me page at

Fire investigators say if you know anything about the arson, call the arson hotline: 1-877-662-7766.