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Spotsy schools help educators after fire
Two Spotsylvania educators touched by community support after they lose their home in a Friday morning fire.

Date published: 11/17/2012


For Len and Christy Carlson, this was to have been a time of celebration.

Family members were flying in from Florida for a golf outing today in honor of Len's 40th birthday. And, after a few days together in the couple's Caroline County home, the group was to travel to Christy's parents' house near Charlottesville for Thanksgiving.

But a fire in the early morning hours Friday ravaged the Spotsylvania County educators' home and nearly all of their belongings, dramatically altering their plans.

"We got out safe, so that was the main thing," said Len Carlson, who teaches physical education and is head boys basketball coach at Spotsylvania High School.

Christy Carlson is a physical education teacher and athletic trainer at Massaponax High School.

Christy Carlson's mother, Kathy Bagby, had arrived from Fluvanna County about 7 p.m. Thursday. She came to help the couple get their Ruther Glen house ready for the festivities.

She also helped watch the couple's 8-month-old daughter, Rilyn, amid the preparations.

After a busy evening, everyone was asleep by 10:30 p.m., Len Carlson said.

About 2 hours later, Christy Carlson woke her husband after she smelled smoke.

When they looked out the bedroom window they saw flames, and they headed to the other bedrooms to roust Bagby and grab Rilyn.

They all escaped unharmed before smoke overtook the single-story home with a basement.

They watched as firefighters battled the smoke and fire before the roof collapsed.

It was devastating, thinking of all that was lost, especially family memorabilia such as photographs, Len Carlson said.

But he and his wife were touched by the thoughtfulness of the firefighters, who grabbed a few items as they evacuated for their safety.

They rescued a frame containing Rilyn's hospital bracelet and another that displayed her footprints at birth.

They also brought out a photograph of Christy's grandmother, who died a year ago, and an American flag the family had displayed on one wall.

"We were pretty impressed," said Len Carlson, a military veteran, who paused in an effort to stop the tears.

As word spread through the Spotsylvania schools community Friday morning, employees began rallying to help.

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Spotsylvania and Massaponax high schools will hold a benefit basketball game on Tuesday to help the Carlsons.

The game will be played at Massaponax High School at 6:30 p.m.

All money collected through ticket sales will go to the family. People can also bring gift cards and toys for 8-month-old Rilyn Carlson.

Anyone wishing to support Spotsylvania educators Len and Christy Carlson may drop off gift cards at three school sites, or give donations via Pathway Church.

Pathway Church Pastor Dave Hockney said people may drop off donations between 9 a.m. and noon on Sunday. The church meets at Liberty Lanes Bowling Center, 5801 Southpoint Centre Blvd. in Massaponax.

Schools are open Monday and Tuesday this week before beginning the Thanksgiving holiday. Drop-off locations and times are:

Massaponax High School, 8201 Jefferson Davis Highway, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Spotsylvania High School, 6975 Courthouse Road, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

School Board administration building, 8020 River Stone Drive, 7:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.