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Seadrift home destroyed: Couple struggles to cope with the loss

By by Dianna Wray
Dec. 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.

Delmer Brown says he still cannot accept the total loss of his house by fire on Tuesday.

SEADRIFT - Delmer Brown stared up at the twisted, blackened remnants of his home on Wednesday morning.

The walls he had erected with his own hands lay collapsed in a soggy, soot-covered pile, and the wooden stairs, which used to lead to the second floor of his home broke off at the top, a stairway to nowhere.

Leaving his house on Tuesday morning, Brown never imagined it would be the last time he would stand in his home. He saw the smoke from miles away.

Brown's mother-in-law, Mary Neill, who lives in the house next door, saw the smoke out her window and called the Seadrift Volunteer Fire Department about 11 a.m., Neill said.

There were 15 to 16 firefighters on the scene and seven fire trucks, Seadrift Fire Chief Peter DeForest said. The Port Lavaca Fire Department and the Port O'Connor and Port Alto-Olivia volunteer fire departments also responded to the call. They spent seven hours on the scene, DeForest said.

DeForest said winds reaching 25 to 30 mph exacerbated the fire. Flames had already penetrated the roof when they arrived.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, DeForest said.

Meanwhile, the Browns are still trying to process what they lost.

Brown and his wife, Frances Brown, have lived in the house for the past 16 years, he said.

Frances Brown raised her three children in the original structure. When she and Brown married, he spent five years renovating the house, turning it into their home.

"It's all gone up in smoke. Our pictures, all of our history was in there," Brown said.

The couple is staying in their motor-home parked down the road from the house, but they're unsure of the future.

"You never think when you walk out of your house in the morning, you might not ever walk back into it," Frances Brown said.

Brown has about $100,000 of insurance, but says it is unlikely the amount will cover rebuilding the house.

"I never thought I'd lose it to fire. I always thought I'd lose it to a hurricane ... I never thought of fire, not really," Brown said.

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