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Fayetteville dispatcher loses home in fire, finds support in the community

Natisha Claypool lost her Winslow home Thursday— usually on the receiving side of 911 calls, she received love and support from the community.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Sandy Branson said she was in Texas with her husband when she received a text from her sister, Natisha, that her home had caught on fire.

"It was Thursday evening and I got a text from Natisha that her husband thought that there was a fire," said Branson.

Credit: Fayetteville Fire / Police Department

While Fayetteville firefighters assisted in the fire, Branson explained that many of them knew Claypool. Claypool spent all her adult life as a Fayetteville dispatcher.

"Those were some of her friends from Fayetteville that called her during the event and were like, are you okay, we'll be there in two seconds," said Branson.

"We immediately started seeing if there was anything that we could do—what immediate needs were needed at that time to see if we can help. We were just all in complete shock," said Tara Bryant, Fayetteville dispatch supervisor. 

With five departments responding, Branson explained that eventually, the focus shifted from putting out the fire to saving what they could. She commended many of them, calling them heroes for how they responded and saved what they could. It wasn't long after that those back in the office came to support the Claypool family.

"People from this office found where she was staying with our parents, and they brought them things. The very next day, the way that this dispatch office and the police department treat her is... you don't see it much anymore. It's beautiful," said Branson.

Credit: Fayetteville Fire / Police Department

"One of the reasons why I have worked here, as long as I have—I've been here 17 years— is because this is my family... I spend more time with these people than I do with my own family," said Bryant.

Branson explained that many in her and Claypool's family were public servants and that accepting the support afterward didn't come easy.

"It's hard to take because you're used to being the one providing that... It's overwhelming. It's really overwhelming. And it's so beautiful to see it in the opposite direction," said Branson.

"Ironically, this year, the program was called home for Christmas. And the whole basis of it was that home is actually not a building is what's in your heart and that you have faith and that you know where to turn and that you have hope and peace and all those things," said Branson.

For anyone looking to help, a Gofundme has been set up for the family.

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