ETX teenager tells story of pulling sister from burning home - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

ETX teenager tells story of pulling sister from burning home


An East Texas family is rebuilding their life together after losing everything, including their mother, in a mobile home fire.

A space heater started the fire that destroyed the family's home on December 11, 2012 in Fruitvale, just north of Canton.

Breeanda, Hunter, and Presley Harris are planning out their new home.

"I think that once we're all together the healing process is really going to start," says Breeanda, the oldest sibling of the family.

That healing process could take some time. The Harris family lost their father to heart failure in September. Exactly three months later, a fire destroyed their home and took their mother's life.

"It's always right there, every time you close your eyes you can just see it and it's hard," Breeanda says.

Breeanda, Hunter, and a friend were sleeping in the living room when the fire started. Presley and her mother were in a back bedroom.

"I was really wondering, ‘is this a dream? is it not a dream?' And when I realized it wasn't, because of the heat, I woke everybody up," Breeanda says.

"Halfway to the driveway I turned because I remembered Mom and Presley were in the house," says Hunter, the family's 17-year-old brother.

Hunter says his brotherly instincts kicked in, "I got around the house to the window. I didn't think about it twice, I just punched right through it."

He says the smoke was unbearable, "I couldn't see anything, I was sticking my head in screaming for them and sticking it back out because I couldn't breathe and Presley's arms just reached through the window and I grabbed her."

Presley, a freshman at Fruitvale High School, remembers her brother's heroic act, "I tried to feel my way to the window and when I did I put my arms out and he just he grabbed me out of there ... If I were in there for two or three more minutes I would have died."

When Hunter returned for his mother, she did not respond.

"I was just sitting there yelling and yelling and I didn't get any response and I knew there was nothing I could do. I walked away my head down, I was crying, and I stood at the end of the driveway and stuff started exploding inside the house and I just watched it burn to the ground," Hunter says.

But where ashes once lay now stands a new home, one of the many things donated to help the Harris family start over.

"I would have never guessed that they were this supportive, you know, coming together this much to make this much happen in such a little time," Hunter says.

A double wide trailer, furniture, and a lot of love has been given to the family, but Breeanda says it will never fill their void, "It doesn't replace what you have, it doesn't replace your parents, it doesn't replace the bond, it doesn't replace what we had left of our Dad, just appreciate what you have."

The Harris siblings say they now have a new outlook on life and can feel their Mom and Dad watching over them.

"I know that I've got angels up in heaven watching my back," says Hunter.

Angels in heaven and now an entire community watching over them.

The Harris family hopes to be in their new home by the end of this month. They say there is still a lot to be done but they are doing well and want to thank everyone who has helped their family through this tragedy.

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