Durham police officer and his family living in hotel after fire damages home

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Longtime Durham Police Sgt. Dale Gunter is no stranger to tragedy.

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“My neighbor called screaming into the phone and crying saying my house was burning down,” said Gunter of the fire that happened nearly a week ago.

In his 24 years on the job, he’s seen some of the worst humanity has to offer.

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“I sat there for a second trying to digest it because I go to house fires, but my house doesn’t burn down,” said Gunter.

“Coming onto a scene whether it’s a fire, a shooting, a homicide, a domestic assault — I come on scene and I keep control of things.”

The Gunter family’s home was heavily damaged in the fire on Friday, but no one was hurt.

Sgt. Gunter says his father-in-law had his trailer parked right behind his home. Fire officials believe the fire started in the front part of the camper and then spread to his house.

“There are no words to describe that feeling,” Gunter said. “Everything you worked for going up in flames. For the first time in my life, I had no clue what to do.”

Thanks to the generosity of his fellow officers, the Durham community, and even strangers, Gunter’s faith in humanity is restored.

“I had to sit down in a pile of rubble and what’s left and I just sat and cried,” Gunter recalled. “There’s no way I can express enough thanks to everybody out there.”

A Durham police officer started a GoFundMe page for Gunter and his family. Within 24 hours people from all around the world had donated more than $20,000.

“A police officer from the U.K. donated and I don’t know him and he doesn’t know anything about me, but he sees it and reaches out and wants to help,” Gunter said.

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“That is what being a good person is about and that’s the basis and the premise of police work is I don’t know you and I’ve never met you, but whatever the case we help,” Gunter added.

Gunter and his family are staying in a hotel.

Funds raised will go toward whatever insurance does not cover. However, Gunter said that any extra money will go to the volunteer fire department who fought the blaze at this home.

Click here to visit the GoFundMe page for more information.

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