NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A lot of 'what if's' are rolling through Cheryl McAlister's mind right now. Yesterday's fire came within a few yards from her North Redland home, located off of Highway 259, near Maul.
"I panicked. I panicked," McAlister admitted. "Some how I managed to relax enough to pick up the phone and call 911."
Could the fire have injured McAlister's sleeping son if she and her sister hadn't come back from a Lufkin shopping trip? "I was home. It was a blessing I was home. My sister had to go to work so we had to cut our shopping trip short. My son was in a deep sleep before having to leave for work."
Would McAlister have ever heard the fire popping if the electricity hadn't flickered which caused her to turn off a noisy room air conditioner? "It's really loud and I just had turned it off a few minutes and then I heard this noise," said McAlister. Her husband always told her to turn of the air to save the compressor when the electricity flickers.
She shutters thinking of the possibilities. "Lots of thanks," she said.
McAlister's screams alerted her nephew who lives next door. A garden hose, way not long enough, was all Tyrus Johnson had to keep the creeping blazes from a backyard propane tank.
"I was out there trying to spray and put it out before they got here," said Johnson. "Just trying, you know, keep my house from blowing up."
Firefighters and the Texas Forest Service quickly arrived. They bulldozed fire protection lanes, the only barrier between their homes and the fire.
"Thank the Lord they got it out," said Mary Esco, McAlister's cousin.
Firefighters had fires in North Redland and north of there, off of farm to market road 204 at the Cushing Y. Cause of the fires have yet to be determined.
Mcalister took videos off her phone camera of fire helicopters dropping water from overhead. They will remain as reminders the close call residents faced.
"That was the last drop," she recalled while watching the images.
Now North Redland residents are educating themselves. " The lady on the fire truck was giving us tips and websites to look at to things we could just do ourselves," said McAlister.
Just one of the precautions the neighbors in this close knit community will do while continuing to look after one another.