Family loses everything in house fire (Video)
Oct. 25, 2012 at 5:25 a.m.
Updated Oct. 26, 2012 at 5:26 a.m.
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The family is in need of clothes, food and shelter. To make a donation, call Joe Barefield, a family member, at 361-218-7258.
The 17-year-old East High School senior was at softball practice when she got the call that her house was on fire.
Whitney Garley left immediately, still in a dirt-smudged uniform, to check on her family and home.
But Whitney said she was unprepared for what she saw when she arrived in the 1300 block of Vogt Road - her grandmother's house was completely engulfed in flames.
"Oh my God, where are we going to stay now?" was all Whitney said she could think about as she watched the roof and frame start to collapse under the strength of the fire.
Though her grandmother, Cynthia Garley, and her aunt, Tyra Garley, were home when the fire started about 3:15 p.m., they both managed to get out unharmed.
"It can't be replaced; it just can't. Those are pictures and memories that can't be replaced," Cynthia Garley said, helplessly watching from the side of the road as firefighters struggled against the flames.
Frankie Williams, a neighbor, said she woke up to the fire and smell of smoke.
"It all went up in flames, she (Cynthia Garley) didn't even have time to put shoes on. She came over here barefoot," Williams said.
Whitney said the family also lost a Yorkie mix, Hannah, in the fire.
"If I had a bad day or something, she would be the one to make me happy," Whitney said, tearing up. "But they just had to get out. Better to lose a dog than a family member. I'm just glad they got out."
Firefighters were able to rescue four puppies after the fire was under control by about 6 p.m.
"They were in the bushes by the side of the house," said Gregg Czapla, DaCosta assistant fire chief. "We thought the smoke would have got them."
Whitney said the other two dogs made it out alive.
But the rescued pets and the seven family members are now homeless, and the house is a total loss, according to Victoria County Fire Marshal Ron Pray.
Linda May, emergency services director of the American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter, said they are providing the family with three nights in a hotel and basic needs, such as food and clothes.
Officials said the departments used more than 20,000 gallons of water. Victoria and DaCosta engines made at least 10 combined runs for more water, each carrying 2,000 gallons a piece.
The Victoria Fire Department responded to the call and was assisted by volunteers from DaCosta, Placedo and Lone Tree.
Firefighters were never able to enter the house because the wood structure was consumed in flames when they arrived, said Tracy Fox, Victoria Fire Department assistant chief.
Pray said the cause of the fire is under investigation.
"I just hate to see them go through that," Williams said, watching the fire rage from her porch. "I tried to comfort her (Cynthia Garley) the best I could, but you don't know what to say to that. She just lost everything."