Family loses clothing, property in fire
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Feb. 1, 2005 -- A Bellview Street resident and his 4-year-old son fled their home Monday afternoon to escape a blaze which fire investigators said was due to a loose connection leading to a gas heater in a bedroom.

No one was injured in the blaze, but the back bedroom at 205 Bellview St. was destroyed, and the remainder of the house severely smoke damaged. Sulphur Springs Fire Investigator Eric Hill, after examining burn patterns and speaking with the home owner and residents, determined that a gas leak from the loose heater connection caused the back bedroom carpet to catch fire, spreading across the floor and up the wall before engulfing the bedroom.

Resident Tommy Stubblefield said he was at home with 4-year-old son Jeffrey when the fire occurred. He told fire officials and family members that he had just bathed his youngest son and was clothing him in the front bedroom, when Jeffrey noticed the fire. Seeing no smoke, Tommy opened the bedroom door and immediately saw the flames from the other room. He grabbed the child and ran out the front door, only going back in to grab a cellular phone to call for help, Stubblefield said.

Tommy's wife, Shannon, was contacted at Best Western where she works and then taken to Wesley United Methodist Church, where Tommy and Jeffrey waited while Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze. A family member was contacted to pick up Jeffrey's siblings, 8-year-old Chelsey, and 6-year-old twins Deanna and Dillon, who were at school just down the street at Austin Elementary when the fire occurred.

"The back bedroom is gone, and the rest of the house had heavy smoke damage, so most of the contents are going to be unsalvageable," Hill said.

The Stubblefield family will depend on the generosity of others for living accommodations and to replace all of their clothing and personal property.

Clothing, small personal items and monetary donations may be made to the family by talking to Tommy or Shannon Stubblefield, or Lee Garcia, at Best Western, 1521 East Shannon Road, or calling the hotel at 903-885-7515; or the family's sister and brother-in-law, Donna and Rodney "Moose" Worley, at 903-438-0056.

First Christian Church, where the Stubblefields are members, will also be assisting the family and will accept clothing, monetary, personal items, furniture, household goods and other large donations at the church, 207 North Davis St., on behalf of the Stubblefields, a church member said Monday evening

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