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Cuero family escapes fire

By BY DIANNA WRAY - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Aug. 22, 2011 at 3:22 a.m.

Mary Ann Sanchez turns her thoughts back to Sunday morning when the sound of a loud pop and the smell of smoke sent her family scurrying out of their burning home.

HOW TO HELP

To donate to the American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter, call 361-573-2671 or go to crossroads-redcross.org.

The family needs clothing in the following sizes:

Women's pants: Size 16 and 28.

Women's shirts: extra-large, 3XL

Women's shoes: 8 1/2, 9

Men's pants: 38, 36x34

Men's shirts: 2XL, XL

Men's shoes: 9 1/2

Girl's clothing: 2T

Their home was quiet as Mary Ann Sanchez and her family went to sleep on Saturday night.

By the time they woke, the peacefulness was replaced by fire raging through their home at 105 North St. in Cuero.

"I never even smelled smoke. It just happened so fast," Sanchez said Monday, shaking her head.

Sanchez and her husband, Bret Boyd, were startled awake at about 2:30 a.m. by an earth-shaking thump as the large mirror in the bathroom crashed to the floor.

Sanchez slid out of bed and tugged open the bedroom door. Flames roared into the room just over her head.

Sanchez screamed, and she and her husband grabbed their cell phones and made for the back door, shouting for her niece and nephew to get the baby and get out as the fire moved through the house, melting and blackening everything they owned. The fire crackled and roared through the house they had rented for the past four years.

"I couldn't believe it was really happening. This was something I never thought I'd go through," Sanchez said, blinking and rubbing her red-rimmed eyes.

In all of the confusion, Sanchez's nephew, Michael Garcia, dove back into the flames, thinking Sanchez was trapped inside. When he came back out, Sanchez was standing there.

"I asked him if he thought he'd rescue me by carrying me out or something? He said he'd have done it," Sanchez said, laughing.

Once they knew everyone was safe, the family stood in the front yard, helpless, waiting for the fire department to come.

There wasn't much they could do when they arrived, Sanchez said.

A ruling has not been made on the cause of the fire, Cuero Fire Department Chief Butch Tolbert said.

There were two trucks on the scene, and firefighters spent three hours putting out the blaze, Tolbert said.

The fire started in the bathroom and is believed to have been electrical, Sanchez said. The blaze was so hot, the ceramic toilet melted and any of their possessions that didn't burn outright were ruined from smoke and soot.

The family escaped with only their cell phones and the clothes on their back. Now, they are trying to figure out what they'll do next, Sanchez said.

Sanchez works as a mental health aide at Gulf Coast Rehabilitation and holds a second job to help make ends meet.

The American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter has stepped in, but the family has to replace almost everything they owned.

"This is hard because I've never asked for anything, and I've always worked. It's hard to admit I need help," she said.

Since then, Sanchez said she has been touched to see the people of Cuero reaching out to help her and her family. Sanchez has a second job working at the local motel to help make ends meet. When her boss heard what happened, he offered her a room to stay in, she said. Other neighbors have stepped in donating clothes and other necessities.

"I've lived here seven years, and I just can't believe how good-hearted the people are," she said.

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