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Fire burns around, damages house in Lolita

Aug. 30, 2011 at 3:30 a.m.

A grass fire that started in a pasture off of Jackson County Road 429, spread to the adjacent home of Gary Spraggins. The intense heat scorched and melted the exterior vinyl siding but never entered the home. The home did sustain smoke and electrical damage.

Gary Spraggins still isn't sure what ignited the fire in his front yard Monday.

The fire burned about a half-acre of his 20.69 acre property and melted the vinyl siding off three sides of his home and caused extensive smoke damage to the interior.

But he's absolutely certain of one thing: the ongoing drought was to blame for the fire.

"We need rain so bad. This probably wouldn't have happened if we weren't in this drought," Spraggins said Tuesday, glancing at his burned home.

The fire started at 5 p.m. in the 400 block of County Road 429 in Lolita.

Spraggins said he was working at Dow Chemical Co. when his wife, Verna Spraggins, called to tell him their four-bedroom, two-bathroom double-wide mobile home was on fire.

"My wife was inside laying down and she said she heard a sizzling sound," Spraggins said.

When she looked out the front window, Spraggins said his wife noticed their riding lawn mower was completely engulfed and the front yard was on fire.

"She called 911 and drove down to the neighbors house," he said. "That was a good mower, too. Dangit."

Within minutes, three sides of their mobile home were corralled by flames, and the siding was melting off the exterior of the home.

"It's a miracle the house didn't go up in flames. The only explanation I have is that God stood on this property and said, 'That's as far as you go,'" Spraggins said. "It is only by his grace and the hard work of the Lolita, Edna, Vanderbilt and Ganado fire departments that we still have a home."

Firefighters responded to the scene within five to 10 minutes of the 911 emergency call, and were able to extinguish the flames within a half hour, he said.

Spraggins, who shares the home with his wife and three children, said they are uncertain where they will live while the home is being repaired. The American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter is supplying the family with temporary lodging, he said.

The family of five has access to a mobile camper, which was parked on the front lawn during the blaze and somehow managed to stay out of the fire's path.

"The flames went right underneath it. And the propane tank on the back right here, it wasn't touched by the fire. It's amazing it didn't burn," Spraggins said. "It will be tight in there with five people, but I don't really have a choice. The house is unlivable right now."

Spraggins said his family has lived in the home for 16 years and has never experienced a house fire in the past.

Because firefighters responded so quickly to help save his home, he encourages the community to donate money to the Red Cross and area fire departments because they were a primary reason his family's home and possessions were kept safe.

"I want to tell people to give to the Red Cross and make donations to local fire departments because they come to the rescue. This is what they do, and this is what they helped save," he said pointing to his home. "All the things in the house, all the memories, the fire didn't touch it. Somebody was definitely looking out for us."



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