HUDSON, TX (KTRE)- A Hudson man who just returned from Afghanistan is having to deal with losing his home to fire. The fire destroyed the family's home on Craft Fenley Road, off Highway 103 west just outside the Lufkin city limits. Fire officials believe the fire started in the attic because of an electrical malfunction.
Thirteen years of memories surround Jon Dippel. "I've been through a lot here," said Jon Dippel while surveying what's left of his charred home. "I've had good time and made it through some tough times. You can't get the pictures back. You can't get the souvenirs. You can't get all the memories."
Dippel said watching his home burn before his eyes was shattering.
"I don't have much of a house here," he said. "It's not much. It's an old house. I just finished painting it, and it's not worth much, but it's my house."
In the bitter cold, volunteer firefighters for Hudson, Rivercrest and Central battled the blaze for six hours.
"The water was freezing as soon as it would hit the ground," said Chris Smith, Hudson Assistant Fire Chief. "We had firefighters wearing coats with just nothing but ice on them. The water would freeze on contact despite the heat of the fire."
Only a few things were salvaged. "This is my daughter's stuff," said Dippel pointing out a jewelry box and heart necklace. "They pulled this stuff out thinking of her, thinking of us."
Smoldering ashes carpet the ground, but if you look towards the sky the family's American flag still stands.
"That flag is there for a reason," he said. "You really learn how well we have it over here. I mean there they have no running water. It's a third world country. (There's) no electricity in much of their country. Things that we take for granted."
"We had fire probably just within a couple of feet of that flag when we got here," said Smith. "The flag still stands."
For a man who just lost his home, Dippel said starting over will take time.
"The memories, you can't ever be able to get those back," he said. "That's the hardest part."
Dippel and his family are making plans to rebuild their home.