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Officials investigate Cuero house fire (Video)

By Jessica Priest
Jan. 28, 2013 at 7 p.m.
Updated Jan. 28, 2013 at 7:29 p.m.


BRUSH WARNING

Although Cuero Fire Chief Butch Tolbert is confident Monday's fire started inside the garage, he wanted to warn residents, especially those living in a rural area, of the danger associated with accumulating brush around their property during the recent dry conditions.

"What grass is out there will readily burn the first chance it gets," he said.

He said DeWitt County is under a burn ban similar to the one enforced in Victoria County, where residents can burn trash in a barrel covered with a mesh that has a 1/2- or 5/8-inch opening on it.

CUERO - Wendy Munoz stood stunned Monday outside of what remained of a one-story Cuero home she shares with her boyfriend, Ismael Garza.

The mother of three was fighting back tears as her friends gathered around her in a show of support, supplies at the ready.

"Thanks for this," she said, nodding to several laundry detergent containers sitting on the grass.

About 9 a.m., Munoz, 32, got word while working as a teacher's aide that the Cuero Fire Department was battling a blaze they believed started in her garage in the 1400 block of North Hunt Street.

Cuero Fire Chief Butch Tolbert said no one was injured and an investigation into the fire's cause is ongoing.

"It was an accidental fire. It was not intentional. ... They'll have to go in and completely redo the garage, but it's not to a point where they'll have to totally demolish it (the house)," he said of how the flames spread to the kitchen and attic.

Tolbert said the rest of the house received heavy smoke and heat damage.

The Red Cross gave Garza, Munoz and Munoz's children, ages 9, 10 and 11, money, vouchers for food and a room in a nearby hotel for the next three days.

Munoz said the Cuero Independent School District Superintendent's Office is also helping out by providing her children with any school supplies they might be missing.

Coming off the Christmas holidays, Munoz mourned the loss of her first family home and wondered how she'd break the news to her kids, who were still in school about 3 p.m. Monday.

"The pictures, a majority of them, are gone," she said, as a smell of charred belongings permeated the air. "It's a feeling like you'll never be able to get that back. Those things can't ever be replaced."

This was the first structure fire the Cuero Fire Department has responded to out of its 14 calls for service in 2013, Tolbert said.

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