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Victoria resident starts over after house fire

By Johnathan Silver
July 4, 2014 at 2:04 a.m.
Updated July 5, 2014 at 2:05 a.m.

Royal Thomas, 90, of Victoria, talks to a police officer about the fire that engulfed the home he was renting in the 1700 block of North Cameron Street.

How to help

To help Victoria resident Royal Thomas and/or donate to the Crossroads Chapter of the American Red Cross, call 361-573-2671. The Victoria office is at 1501 E. Red River St., Suite A1.

All that Royal Thomas could think about were his kids as his home burned Thursday night. Early Friday morning, he began the process of regaining life's basic necessities.

"If they knew about this, they'd fly over here," said Thomas, who is 90 years old.

The Victoria resident lost everything as a fire gutted the single-story structure in the 1700 block of North Cameron Street. The fire, visible for blocks, and the smoke, visible for miles, were reported to emergency responders at 10:46 p.m. Thursday.

Victoria Fire Marshal Tom Legler said investigators would return Monday to the burned structure to find out what caused the blaze.

Thomas recalled being unable to see in his smoke-filled home and hearing loud popping sounds, which steered him out.

"I'm gonna save my damn self," Thomas remembered thinking as it became more difficult to locate a way out of the house, which burned in the back of the structure and spread to the roof.

Barbara Neville, disaster program manager with the American Red Cross, said Thomas lost everything in the fire.

The agency is providing Thomas with food, shelter and clothes and getting in touch with family, Neville said, adding that a caseworker has been assigned to Thomas.

"We're going to help him through the entire recovery process," she said.

Victoria resident David Hall, who lives a block away, recalls hearing "cracking and popping" sounds. He and his wife joined other neighbors Thursday night watching the fire that looked "20 feet high."

"It scared me to death," he said.

Hall said his wife told a first responder that Thomas' neighbor, whose legs are amputated, was still in her home when the fire broke out next door. Firefighters broke through a front window to remove the woman. Emergency services later attended to her because she experienced sharp pain while in a wheelchair.

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