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Lightning fire destroys home on Park Avenue

By BY ERIN PRADIA - EPRADIA@VICAD.COM
Aug. 25, 2011 at 3:25 a.m.
Updated Aug. 26, 2011 at 3:26 a.m.

Victoria Fire Department firefighters try to get control of a fire at a home in the 1700 block of Park Avenue on Thursday. A storm blew through the area about 1:45 p.m., bringing strong winds that knocked down a power line, which caused the home of Fred and Hazel Coon to catch fire.

Grace Pergament noticed smoke coming from the television in the kitchen and from the dishwasher in her parents' home on Park Avenue on Thursday afternoon.

When she went to turn off the power, she said, the water heater was covered in flames.

Pergament, 51, was able to save the three family cats and call 911.

Pergament also called her mother, Hazel Coon, who was caring for her father Frank Coon as he underwent dialysis at a local hospital.

"My husband Frank nearly died twice this summer. Now he's getting better," said Coon. "That is the most important thing to me. Of course, I didn't want to see my house burn down, though."

The Victoria Fire Department responded to the home in the 1700 block of Park Avenue at 1:52 p.m., said Victoria Fire Department Battalion Chief Roger Hempel.

"We had responded to a call that the power lines were down on Virginia Street a few blocks over," Hempel said. "When we arrived on the scene there was smoke coming from the attic. The fire crew initiated an interior attack."

Hempel said the two neighboring homes had external electrical issues.

"I had just gotten back home and heard what sounded like fireworks going through the back yard," said next-door-neighbor Mike McClure, 62. "I knew that wasn't right. It seemed like it was coming from the electrical wires."

McClure saw a bright light coming from his refrigerator and heard lots of popping sounds.

"The appliances all seem shot," McClure said. McClure called 911 and turned off all the electrical circuits in his home.

"My wife is 100 percent disabled. The only thing I could think about was getting her out of the house," McClure said.

The Coons' home was insured, and Hempel said their house will be a total loss.

"We planned to re-model the house and clean out the garage, but we didn't plan to do it like this," said Hazel Coon, 75, who watched from across the street as firefighters battled the flames leaping from her roof.

Hempel said the fire was under control between 30 and 45 minutes, but the house is a complete loss. Once the flames were put out, the firefighters assessed the safety of the structure before further investigating the cause.

The cause of the fire is still uncertain, but Hempel said the fire department believes the two fires were related - Hempel said an electrical surge through the area was potentially caused by worn electric wires that the wind blew onto the roof of the home.

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