Fire destroys Nursery Road home, leaves family homeless (video)
By BY CAROLINA ASTRAIN AND SONNY LONG - CASTRAIN@VICAD.COM, SLONG@VICAD.COM
Oct. 14, 2013 at 5:14 a.m.
Updated Oct. 15, 2013 at 5:15 a.m.
Pedro Lira awoke Monday morning to the smell of smoke.
Tufts of blackened air seeped into his bedroom as the 17-year-old quickly grabbed a towel to shield his girlfriend from the flames.
The Cuero High School senior's family home in the 4800 block of Nursery Road was destroyed by fire Monday morning.
"I'm lucky I made it out alive," Pedro's girlfriend, Kim Robledo, 18, said. "I would have stayed asleep if it hadn't been for Pedro."
They were home alone when the fire broke out. His parents, Pete and Rachel Lira, had left for work.
Firefighters from the Nursery and Raisin volunteer fire departments, Victoria County Fire Department and city of Victoria Fire Department responded to the blaze about 8 a.m.
Three-quarters of the home was engulfed by the time the first units arrived, David Phillips, Victoria County assistant chief, wrote in an email.
"The house was a total loss," Phillips wrote. "The fire appeared to have started in a window A/C unit in the master bedroom."
As the family surveyed the damage later Monday afternoon, Pete Lira found a page from the King James Bible wedged between blackened blades of grass. It contained verses from Luke 14:34.
As he stood in the burnt field, his wife and son combed through the remains of their home.
"Everything happens for a reason," Lira, 56, said. "God doesn't let anything happen without a reason."
The home, appraised at $29,460 by the Victoria County Appraisal District, was not insured, he said.
A sewing machine Lira had recently purchased for his wife, who often mends clothes for her friends and co-workers at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on North Navarro Street, was lost in the fire.
Lira sat next to his wife, Rachel Lira, 44, at the American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter office, kissing her hands to comfort her as she talked about the sewing machine and her love for sewing.
The Lira family, whose clothing and possessions were almost completely lost to the flames, now seeks help from the community to begin rebuilding.
"We're going to need help starting over," Lira said. "Everything is gone."
After scouring the remains, Lira said he plans to bulldoze the wreckage and find a mobile home to set up as a temporary residence.
For now, the family will live next door with the Liras' daughter, Dolores Lira.
Pete Lira dusted ash from family photos salvaged from the ruins and placed them on the dashboard of the family truck.
Through his bifocal lenses, the Victoria native searched the singed remains.
"Maybe this is God trying to tell us we needed to move on," Lira said. "And this is our new beginning."