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Possible electric fire destroys Jecker Street home

By BY ALLISON MILES -
July 25, 2011 at 2:25 a.m.

No injuries were reported after a fire consumed Emily Stover's home on the 1900 block of North Jecker Street on Sunday morning. Stover said she woke up after hearing crackling sounds coming from the area of her bathroom. Officials say the cause may have been electrical, but the investigation is still ongoing. To see a video of the scene, go to www.VictoriaAdvocate.com and click on the story.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Donate boards to assist Emily Stover in boarding up her home. Contact her by calling 361-655-3178.

Make a donation to the American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter. Contact the organization by calling 361-573-2671.

Although Emily Stover's home had smoke detectors, they didn't go off during the blaze.

Mark Flathouse, an investigator with the city fire marshal's office, urges people to check their smoke detectors regularly.

For more information, call the fire department at 361-485-3460. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Emily Stover said it was a thin piece of cloth that saved her from a Sunday morning house fire.

The Victoria resident dozed off on the living room couch inside her 1903 N. Jecker St. home Saturday, after returning from a family wedding. She woke with a startle about 2 a.m. to a crackling sound on the other side of the sheet that separated the room from the bathroom.

"I smelled smoke and knew something was wrong," she said Monday. "If I hadn't heard the sound through that curtain, I know I wouldn't be here today. It saved my life."

Stover made sure her son wasn't inside the home and then got out herself.

Once outside, she said she entered into a state of shock.

"I just stood there," she said. "I couldn't even dial 911. I didn't know what to do."

Luckily, neighbor Jared Todd passed by just then. When he noticed flames emerging from the roof line, he reached for his phone.

"I already had 911 dialed," said Todd, a body shop employee. "I pulled over and got out but, at that point, it was beyond what a water hose would have helped."

The Victoria Fire Department received the call about 2:15 a.m. and had the fire under control within an hour, said Mark Flathouse, an investigator with the city fire marshal's office.

Although it appears the fire began as an electrical issue in the bathroom, he said it remains under investigation, and no cause has been determined.

The blaze destroyed 85 percent of Stover's home and destroyed most of her belongings, she said. A few items, such as photographs and her wallet, survived.

Family and friends rallied around her, taking her shopping for clothes and necessities. She also received assistance with clothing and food from the American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter Monday, said Linda May, disaster services director.

Stover, 57, said she's saddened she lost the place she called home for more than 30 years, but said she plans to forge ahead.

On Sunday, she attended her grandson's birthday party, and her granddaughter gave her a bubble gum pink manicure to lift her mood. She will soon return to her job at H-E-B and begin looking for a new home.

In the meantime, she will split time between her children's homes.

She does not, however, plan to return to the charred remains of her former home.

"I don't want to go back," she said. "I just want to go forward."

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