NEW FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Mark Drayton's life changed dramatically when his house on 2 Flak Lane burned to the ground on Saturday, Sept. 17.
He and his family have now set up a GoFundMe to help them start to rebuild their lives.
"It was a total loss," said Drayton, who lived in the home with his wife, Nadine McClain-Drayton, their daughter Edwina Lawyer and their 18-month-old grandson Edward Lawyer.
Their 1,600-square-foot raised ranch, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and everything inside it was completely destroyed in the blaze. The house, which was built in 1979 and sat on three-quarters of an acre of land, was valued at $300,000.
In addition, three of the family's four cars was also destroyed in the fire: a 1993 Mercedes-Benz, worth $3,000; a 2003 Toyota Prius, worth $2,800; and a 1997 Saturn Vue, worth $3,250.
According to Drayton, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
To date, the family has raised over $2,000 through the GoFundMe page. Their goal is to raise $10,000.
Drayton recalled the events leading up to the fire. "I worked overnight the night before. At around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, my wife woke me up to tell me that everyone in my house was going to visit my mother-in-law, who lives in a nursing home in the Bronx.
"At around 3:45, I put on an Oregon college football game on television. At around 4 to 5 p.m, I thought the sun was coming through the shades. I also thought I heard a smoke alarm and started seeing smoke.
"I looked across at my grandson's room and saw a burst of flames," he said. "I then saw that the fire was already in the living room, so I jumped out of the window above the garage to escape. There was no other way out of the house."
Although Drayton's shoulder was swollen after his escape, he was otherwise unharmed.
Currently, the family is living in a hotel and is renting cars.
Drayton had lived in the house for 24 years -- ever since he moved to New Fairfield from the Bronx, N.Y.
He works as a detox substance technician in Danbury. His wife is retired. Edwina Lawyer works at a Newtown bank.
"This has been very hard on all of us. We are all emotionally disturbed from this," he said. "I am hoping to rebuild my home on the same property it was on. I really love living in New Fairfield and have become well adapted to the area."
In addition, he said he is looking into counseling for his family, to help get them through this difficult period.
They are also saddened because, while their material items can be replaced, 24 years of family photographs can't, Drayton said.
The family's church, New Hope Baptist in Danbury, has been helping them in their time of need.