Kyle Jones may have looked intimidating at 6-foot-3 and 280 pounds, but really, he was a big teddy bear, according to his mother.
“He was just a very sweet, sweet child,” Mary Jones said of her 26-year-old son who died when their Whiteford house burned to the ground last week. The Jones family — Mary and her husband, Scott, and their children, Kyle and Rita Ann — lived on the family farm in the 4400 block of Prospect Road in Whiteford. Their home was destroyed Jan. 10 during an early morning fire, the cause of which has not been determined, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
The fire also destroyed the home of another family of four, whose camper was connected to the Jones mobile home.
While the Office of the State Medical Examiner could not confirm it was Kyle Jones who died in the fire, the family is planning a private memorial service for their son and brother.
Kyle Jones, who had high-functioning autism, was very intelligent but didn’t have any social skills whatsoever, his mother said.
“He didn’t understand people. He tried. He was very loving, but strangers he just didn’t get,” Mary Jones said. “That’s why we’re having him cremated and a private family gathering to spread his ashes on the farm so he’ll always be there, where he was the happiest.”
For now, the Jones family is staying in Aberdeen, but hope to stay in a pull-behind trailer on the farm while they rebuild.
“We’re going to stay at the farm, stay with the family,” Mary Jones said. “That way I’m closer to where Kyle is.”
Daughter helps families escape
Rita Ann Jones was awake when the fire started just before 2 a.m., her mother said. She woke up her parents and the residents next door.
“I called 911, she went around back. She banged on the doors and got all four of them out and basically saved all seven of us,” the elder Jones said.
Everything that Rita Ann learned as a Girl Scout from kindergarten through 12th grade helped her keep calm under pressure in that moment, her mother said.
Jones and her husband tried to get to Kyle, but the fire was so hot it was burning her husband’s head.
“If he had done anything else, he would have been dead, too,” she said of her husband.
Once outside, Scott Jones tried to rip off the aluminum siding to reach his son.
“Then the fire department showed up and pulled him away. We knew by then he was gone,” Mary Jones said. “He was the light of our life.”
She said while Kyle wasn’t social, he was very close to his family, “very much one who took care of us all. If you were sick, he was mothering you.”
He enjoyed working on mechanical things with his father and grandfather — “he always took care of Poppy in the shop,” Jones said.
The mother and son graduated together in 2012 — Kyle from North Harford High School and Jones from University of Phoenix.
“He said he didn’t have to go to school because he was special needs,” Jones said. She wasn’t having any of that, but Kyle retorted that she never graduated from college.
“I said ‘wanna bet?’ and so I went and graduated with him,” Jones said.
Help from the community
Jerry Richardson, who has been friends with Scott Jones since they were in high school, started a GoFundMe collection for the family, which as of Tuesday had raised $17,000 of the $20,000 goal.
“Scott helped me in the past and this is a kind of way to help return the favor,” Richardson said. “They’re good people.”
Richardson and the Jones family participate in tractor pulling — Scott and Rita Jones are tech officials and Mary registers the tractors — and that community has been rallying around the family.
Clothing donations also have been coming in for both families and what they can’t use will be donated, Richardson said.
Other donations being accepted include non-perishable food and gift cards for restaurants or stores. They can be dropped off at Buon Gusto in Whiteford or Moxley’s in Street, he said.
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“It’s been amazing. The Whiteford community is amazing when it comes to helping,” Jones said. “I can’t believe the outpouring of love we’ve received from the whole community, Delta and Whiteford.”