Home burns on Easter (Video)
April 8, 2012 at 5 p.m.
Updated April 8, 2012 at 11:09 p.m.
A single-family home in the 2000 block of Port Lavaca Highway caught fire at 2:16 p.m. Sunday.
The home's three occupants were gone when the blaze began.
Authorities said responding units contained the fire in 20 minutes, but the home sustained extensive damage. Inspectors from the Victoria Fire Marshal's office said the fire was caused by the dryer.
"There was heavy fire coming from the back of the home," Battalion Chief Shannon Martin said. He added that the home is not habitable.
AEP employees were also on the scene.
Passer-by Xaviar Archangel said his instincts kicked in to help when the smoke turned to fire.
His mother, Carol Villarreal, made a U-turn on the highway to investigate the scene. At first, they thought it was someone cooking barbecue.
"We saw the baby carriage, and that scared me even more," he said.
Archangel and other witnesses kicked out the door and busted the windows to find survivors.
Carol Villarreal, Archangel's mother, called the police and said she saw what appeared to be a dryer on fire.
A Port Lavaca native, Villarreal, said she empathized with the family who lost their home.
"It's just a sad situation on Easter Sunday," she said. "They're probably at a party somewhere and have no idea what's going on."
Keilah Dailey, who lived in the home, wasn't at a party, but she was at the park with her boyfriend and 6-week-old son.
Her grandmother, Pat Balfanz, who owns the home, notified her by cell phone.
Dailey, 25, said no major appliances were running in the house. She said she just remodeled the home's interior with new carpet. The next phase was painting the outside.
The home has sentimental value for Balfanz - her husband's parents built the home 78 years ago.
Balfanz said she was going to call the electric company on Monday because the utility pole was making a crackling sound.
Dailey said the call "was the worst thing to have to hear."
I've never been in a situation like this," she said.
The American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter will provide assistance to meet the family's emergency needs, according to Linda May, the emergency services director.
Dailey said she was grateful they were all out and uninjured in the fire. They plan to stay with relatives.