SIU student and local musician loses everything in Christmas Eve blaze

By Amelia Blakely

When Cody Dawkins arrived late Christmas eve night at his apartment building, he found it consumed in a fiery blaze.

“In order for me to even try to find anything, I’m going to have search through the rubble after they tear it down,” Dawkins said.

Dawkins, a local musician and senior studying blacksmithing, lost everything in the fire. The cause is undetermined and still under investigation by authorities.


He lost everything from his laptop, numerous instruments, signed records, metal work, heirlooms, to basic necessities like clothes and bed sheets.

Dawkins said a low estimation of compensation for all that was lost equals to approximately $10,000.

“That’s just to make sure I’m set up straight and on my feet,” Dawkins said. “It took me eight to nine years living out my parents house to finally get where I am at.”

Dawkins did not have rental insurance, but defended this decision by saying few normal college students have rental insurance.

The building on 410 W. Oak Street was owned by David Fisher, but managed by Home Rentals.

They offered Dawkins a new lease for another apartment in compensation for the fire. This came to Dawkins’ dismay and he said he felt as if Home Rentals didn’t care about his building.

“They didn’t even bring up my last month’s rent or security deposit,” Dawkins said. “It was like a smack across my face.”


Dawkins said he has been the sole tenant in the entire apartment building for one month.

The Daily Egyptian reached out to Home Rentals but they declined comment.

Assistant Fire Chief and Arson Investigator Steve McBride said the fire was reported shortly after 10 p.m.

The fire report states, “An unusual fire load of automotive tires was discovered in the origin area.”

Sonny Fredericks of Home Rentals, the management company of the property said he was unaware of tires being stored in the stairwell but had not been in the stairwell for months.

McBride said the origin area of the fire lies around the northwest corner of the building in the stairwell.

According to the fire report, branched circuitry in the stairwell was heavily damaged and fragmented.  

The fire report stated two potential scenarios related to cause of the fire.

Faulty wiring in the branch circuitry, or a fire ignited by a person escaping sub-zero temperatures or attempting arson.

Dawkins said he doubts the scenario of a person starting a fire in the basement of the building to escape the cold weather.

The building is suspected to be about 90 or more years old and built with balloon construction, which means a small fire starting in the basement would spread to the attic area quickly, McBride said.

“Those fires are difficult to contain because they’re all hidden in those wall cavities,” McBride said.  

Dawkins, originally from Xenia, came to Carbondale in 2010 to study at the university. Then, as he described, the close-knit Carbondale music community drew him in.

“Between them [music community] and my fellow blacksmiths at SIU, I’ve definitely been compensated with places to stay and a lot of love and support,” Dawkins said.

Dawkins said he is receiving strong support and love from the community but doesn’t want to ask his friends for money to buy back his ashy possessions.

“I think about something new that’s gone every day,” Dawkins said. “It’s so shocking, it just keeps going on and on.”

Dawkins said he is going to try to keep calling Carbondale home but that is dependent on job prospects. He said he will keep trying to move forward and find a legal group that can assist him in receiving compensation.

For those who wish to help or donate to Cody Dawkins after the fire can at 

Campus Editor Amelia Blakely can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AmeilaBlakely.

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