BY FAITH HARPER
A Tyler family of eight is without a home after a Saturday evening house fire.
Veronica White, 33, said the entire family was staying in the Winona area at her father-in-law’s home fixing the transmission in the family’s vehicle when the blaze started.
She said the family, with children ages 3, 5, 8, 11, 13 and 15, were renting-to-own the 1996 mobile home in 19100 block of Rocky Lane, outside of Whitehouse.
Mrs. White said she received a call from the fire marshal’s office at 1:30 a.m. and thought it was a joke.
“I was out there around 3 (a.m.), but I haven’t been back. I haven’t seen it in the daytime; I’m not sure I want to,” she said. “I’m afraid of what it looks like.”
Whitehouse, Bullard and Flint-Gresham crews were called to the home at 11:03 p.m., Lt. Josh Britton, of the Whitehouse Volunteer Fire Department, said.
When crews arrived, the home was about half gone, Bullard Fire Chief Keith Newburn said.
Firefighters immediately conducted two searches inside the home to make sure no one was inside, he said. The family’s two dogs and a rabbit also survived, Mrs. White said.
Newburn said the fire appears to have started in the living room. Crews remained on scene until about 3 a.m., he said. Two cars in the yard were damaged, and neighbors homes were saved, he said.
Britton said the department was back at the home on Sunday to squash hot spots that rekindled.
Mrs. White said the family will be staying with their father-in-law until they can regroup and start to rebuild. She said her bank account had a 45-cent balance, but friends had started collecting donations.
“People we haven’t seen in years in high school (were) saying that they have been taking up donations all morning,” she said. “These people are unbelievably amazing. I can’t believe that they did this.”
Mrs. White said as of Sunday evening a place to bring donations or a bank account had not been set up, and the family was still in shock.
“We’ve never been in this situation, “she said. “This is not something that we ever thought would happen.”