INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis mother and healthcare coordinator came home to her house in flames Thursday afternoon.

”I thought I was being punked,” said Turquoise Burgess.

Burgess, a mother of two, said she decided to pick up her daughter earlier than usual Thursday afternoon.

”I went in and just that fast, I wasn’t even gone 30 minutes,” she said.

“Everything was gone. Every single thing…”

Burgess, a coordinator at Franciscan Health Cancer Center, said picked her daughter up earlier than usual because she had a gut feeling she didn’t need to take a nap that day, so she packed up her son and left the house.

”I am glad I didn’t take a nap because that would have left my daughter without a mother and a brother,” said Burgess.

Indianapolis Fire Department investigators determined that Burgess’ south side rental home caught fire due to combustibles on the stove.

”Temporarily, I am staying with my father and my stepmother,” she said. “I don’t really have anywhere else to go. We do not have a home.”

In her role as a coordinator at Franciscan Health Cancer Center, Burgess helps patients every day. Some of her co-workers said they want to show her that same love. 

“People jumped in and literally within 20 minutes we had hundreds of dollars in cash,” said Joan Himebrook. “People saying ‘okay I need sizes for her kids, asking what kind of toys they got for Christmas’.”

Himebrook, a Community Outreach Coordinator with Franciscan, said even strangers are stepping in to help.

“Then, I put it out on my personal Facebook page, which I do for lots of things for cancer patients and different things I need help on,” said Himebrook. “I probably collected $1,500 from people who have never met her.”

Although she said she is grateful to be alive, Burgess has a warning for other renters.

“If you are renting from a property management company, make sure you have your own renters insurance,” said Burgess. “They just want to make sure they are covered, so make sure you are covered too.”

Anyone looking to help Burgess and her children can contact Himebrook at

“The best thing they can do is contact me directly,” Himebrook said. “They can also send things to the cancer center in my name and I will make sure it gets to Turquoise.”