Family loses everything as fire razes their home Saturday
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

A Hopkins County family was left homeless after a roaring fire swept through their home on State Highway 11 east. The fire was first reported just after 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
Staff photo by Angela Pitts

July 25, 2005 - The Miller family’s excitement for Cynthia Sanchez’s win at a high school tennis tournament, held in conjunction with a camp in New Braunfels, was short-lived Saturday. Only minutes after the meet the family received notification a blaze was consuming their residence.

“He [David Miller] told me one moment they were on cloud nine after the win and two minutes later they got a call that their house was on fire,” Hopkins County Salvation Army Chair Jo Marie Neal said midmorning Monday.

Despite firefighters efforts, the blaze destroyed the State Highway 11 east residence, leaving David and Rosie Miller, and children Cynthia, Carlos and Nellie without a place to call home.

Hopkins County Salvation Army assisted the family in accommodations at a local motel over the weekend, and was waiting to hear from David midmorning Monday regarding the extent of insurance coverage for the structure. He advised that while the family does have some insurance, he is unsure the extent of that coverage in his policy, Neal said.

Brinker, Hopkins County, Arbala, Pickton-Pine Forest and Como firefighters responded a few minutes after 1 p.m. Saturday to the blaze SH 11 east. Firefighters advised that flames were “already blowing out of the roof,” with the entire front side of the brick building attached to the carport blazing when crews arrived.

Hopkins County firefighters responding to the call reported heavy smoke was visible as they crossed over Interstate 30.

“When engine 20 arrived one the scene they tried to make a quick attack,” Hopkins County firefighters Brian Fairchild said. “We got in there and the roof was trying to cave in on us due the wind blowing hard from the south through there, blowing it in on us. We backed out and had to go defensive. We got in there and knocked it down a little bit, but had to pull out.”

Engine 20 was utilized to draft water from the swimming pool at the location, while Brinker and Pickton-Pine Forest’s tanker trucks were used to shuttle water from a nearby hydrant to a dump tank, used to draw water to spray on the fire. Brinker and Hopkins County used “deck guns” on their trucks to spray water during the defensive attack, according to Fairchild. Personnel from the other departments as well as their equipment also aided in the attack on the house.

Hopkins County also called in off-duty firemen to assist in battling the blaze. The firemen went into the residence attempting to battle the blaze from the inside at least three times, before efforts were halted due to the collapsing roof.

Temperatures hovering near 100 degrees limited the amount of time firefighters could spend in the fire-fight without risking heat exhaustion.

Hopkins County EMS had an ambulance stand by at the fire with cool water and wet towels to help firefighters stave off heat exhaustion and the Salvation Army provided cool Gatorade for the firefighters.

Crews battled the blaze for nearly six hours, but were unable to keep the house from collapsing in upon itself, leaving only about 2-inches of charred debris, according to fire reports.

Como and Brinker departments were called back two times overnight Saturday and Brinker was called one time Sunday night to smoldering extinguish debris.

A benefit tournament to raise funds to assist the family is being coordinated by Sulphur Springs High School Tennis Coach Susan Reynolds. For more information about the tourney to benefit high school student Cynthia Sanchez’s family, which includes to other children as well as David and Rosie Miller, contact Reynolds at SSHS, 903-885-2158.

For more information about making monetary, clothing or other donations through the Salvation Army, contact Jo Marie Neal at Salvation Army Headquarters inside The Bait Shop, 1702 South Broadway St., or by calling 903-885-9858 or 903-335-1032.

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