Couple treasures statue of Jesus that survived Sevier Co. wildfires

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- After the wildfires robbed them of their home, a Sevier County family found hope in the one thing the fire left behind.

"The fire picked up on the mountain, and the wind flew the embers over and it pretty much engulfed the house," Dakota Cogdill said in November of 2016. "We came back yesterday morning and this was left."

It only took a few hours to dismantle decades. Everything that Dakota Cogdill's grandparents had worked for was gone after wildfires ripped through Sevier County.

"This was everything they had. They lived here for 43 years and there's just so many memories that come with it," he said.

The fire took pictures, jewelry, even Jim Cogdill's Purple Heart from Vietnam.

"We had nothing like clothes or even the essentials like fingernail clippers, anything," Judy Cogdill said. "My younger son had a really hard time with it. He dug in the ashes for days and days and we finally just had to make him stop. He was so hopeful he could just find anything."

And, it turned out he did. A statue of Jesus that used to be in Judy Cogdill's rose garden survived the fire.

"The Jesus statue is the only thing left standing. The only thing intact throughout the whole house, and we just think that's because he's the center of our family," Dakota Cogdill said.

"I thought God was showing that he was taking care of us," Judy Cogdill said.

Fast forward a year, and Judy said she still stands by that.

"I could not tell you the stories of how kind people have been. Of how many people have given time and everything to be able to help us," she said.

They're in a new home now, one renovated by their son and furnished by friends and strangers.

Everything had to be replaced, with one exception.

"It's sitting on my front porch and it will always be close," Judy said about her statue. "It still has charred black on it and someone said, 'Are you going to clean it up?' and I said, 'No, I want it just the way it is.' It reminds me that he was watching over us."

It took a year to replace what was ripped away in just a matter of hours. But from now on, the Cogdill's front porch will always host a reminder of the good.

"We are blessed. Out of the ashes can come good things," she said.