"Anything of Jane’s, anything that meant anything to me regarding my wife is burned up and gone."
Larry Smith left his house around 11 p.m. Saturday to meet some friends at Corner Pocket, something he does often.
Around 2 a.m. he got a call from the Tallahassee Police Department and rushed back across town to his home on Cactus Street.
There, he found around 11 fire trucks working to extinguish a blaze that had fully engulfed the home he has owned for the past 25 years.
Smith's dog, Jake, a dachshund, his cat, Lexi, another neighborhood stray cat, and his goldfish did not survive.
Smith said the fire department hasn't given him a definitive cause of the blaze yet, but he thinks it could have originated in his wood-burning fireplace's chimney.
His pets weren't his only loss.
Smith's wife of 23 years, Jane, died weeks earlier on Dec. 11, 2019, after she developed a staph infection following triple bypass surgery.
"Anything of Jane’s, anything that meant anything to me regarding my wife is burned up and gone," he said.
The couple loved to spend time together with friends at Corner Pocket. Smith said that since his wife's death, the Corner Pocket crowd has become like a second family, helping him cope with the loss.
“If it wasn’t for them I would have a lot more trouble surviving,” he said.
Now, they will come together to help him survive another loss.
The Apalachee Parkway bar and grill has already planned a benefit for Larry with Tobacco Road Band on Feb. 22 from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m.
After purchasing his home 25 years ago, Smith refinished most of the home and built additions. He and his family plan to rebuild, but they won't see a dime of insurance money to help.
He was under the impression that he had home insurance, but his existing insurance only covered the mortgage. So although Smith won't need to worry about making his mortgage payments, he will not receive any money to rebuild the home he has owned for a quarter of a century.
"Our saying right now is 'We’re getting through today and tomorrow we’ll deal with tomorrow.'"
Smith's family has created a GoFundMe to help with the costs .
Contact Tori Lynn Schneider at email@example.com or on Twitter @photoriphy. Check out her photos on Instagram @phototori_.
This story originally published to tallahassee.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the new Gannett Media network.