UPDATE: Garage fire in Whitehouse started after lawnmower was put away

Published on Tuesday, 8 July 2014 16:18 - Written by By Faith Harper, fharper@tylerpaper.com

WHITEHOUSE — A fire heavily damaged a Smith County family’s three-car garage Monday evening.

Crews were called the a home in the 200 block of Jamie Drive, off Rhones Quarter Road outside of Whitehouse, at 6:38 p.m., said Keith Tate, assistant fire chief of Flint-Gresham Volunteer Fire Department. When first responders arrived at 6:46 p.m., roughly 25 percent of the garage with an apartment was on fire, Tate said.

Tate said firefighters attempted to enter the garage to fight the flames from both sides, but a large number of things inside made it too dangerous and they fought the fire from outside.

Smith County Assistant Fire Marshal Connie McCoy-Wasson said the exact cause of the fire remains under investigation until at least Tuesday.

She said a 6- and 9-year-old spent most of the day mowing the family’s lawn, and noticed the fire shortly after putting the mower up for the day. Assistant Fire Marshal Wasson said the children got their mother, who tried to put the campfire-sized fire out with an extinguisher, but the flames continued to grow larger.

She said the family was storing furniture for another of its children who was in the process of moving.

The homeowners were not injured in the blaze, but a Flint-Gresham firefighter was treated at the scene for heat exhaustion, Tate said.

Whitehouse, Bullard, Flint-Gresham, Noonday, Troup and Chapel Hill volunteer fire departments responded to the scene with the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office, East Texas Medical Center EMS and the Smith County Sheriff’s Office.