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Two families left homeless after fire (video)

By chirst
April 27, 2013 at 10:03 a.m.
Updated April 26, 2013 at 11:27 p.m.


To Help

The family needs clothes, food, money and school supplies. To donate, call Brandee Pena at 361-389-7365.

KIDS' CLOTHING SIZES: - Sierra Pena, 10: Clothes are a 10/12 and shoes are 11/2-2.- Kaden Houde, 5: 4/5T and size 10 child shoe - Malique Pena, 2: 3T

RED CROSS

Donate to the American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter by calling 361-573-2671 or visit redcross.org/tx/victoria.

Saturday was supposed to be a lazy morning.

Venus Houde was lounging in bed in her nightgown. The kids were watching Saturday morning cartoons, staying inside from the rain.

And then her nephew started banging on her door at 9:30 a.m. - yelling that the house was on fire.

"I was awake but didn't smell anything. ... We ran outside and grabbed the water hoses and started trying to put the fire out. I was freaking out. I'm training to be a first responder, but I was still freaking out," Houde said, staring at the smoldering embers of her home.

Houde and her sister-in-law, Brandee Pena, immediately got the children, ages 2, 5 and 10, out of the house.

But despite their efforts with the water hoses, the house in the 300 block of McCormick Drive was engulfed in flames when the Victoria Fire Department arrived minutes after it got the call, said Victoria Battalion Chief Shannon Martin.

All Houde could do was stand across the street in the rain in a T-shirt a neighbor gave her to cover up her nightgown. She lost everything.

No one was injured in the fire, but a dog, Hunter, was in the garage when the fire started and did not make it out.

Houde said she could hear him whimpering but did not have time to get him out.

Jayne Lassiter, who lives a few houses down, said she heard what sounded like gun shots. She went outside and saw the smoke.

"It was just blazing, just flames everywhere. ... Then we heard all kinds of explosions. We started down here, but we stayed way back," Lassiter said, adding she could see shingles and other debris in the smoke.

A propane tank was near the house, Pena said, and may have caused the sounds of explosions.

Martin said firefighters had the fire under control at 10:21 a.m., though areas of the home were still smoldering.

He said in addition to being in the country, where Victoria fire tankers and Nursery volunteers had to shuttle water in to fight the blaze, the home was built around a mobile home, making the fire more difficult to fight.

"We initially sent crews inside but pulled them out when the roof began to sag, and there was a possibility of structural collapse," Martin said.

Houde said they would stay with family until they can find a new place to live.

Half of the home burned to the ground, and the rest sustained smoke, fire and water damage, Martin said.

The family also lost a motor home, which was parked next to the house and caught fire.

Houde said the fire started in the garage, but she doesn't know what caused it to start.

Pena said the home was insured. The American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter is helping the family with emergency assistance.

The fire is under investigation by the Victoria County Fire Marshal's Office.

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