2 killed in Palestine fire: "It's the hardest thing I've had to - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

2 killed in Palestine fire: "It's the hardest thing I've had to go through. She was like family"


Saturday, Palestine experienced what one fire fighter claims, is the biggest fire Palestine has ever seen.

The fire tore down a 3 story historic building in downtown Palestine, and took 2 lives that night.

A thrift store was in that building, and the owner says she didn't expect this tragedy to come from trying to help others.

"It's that hardest thing I've ever had to go through, and deal with," said Brenda Jorgensen, the owner of Family Gardens Resale Shop.

Jorgensen owned the thrift store that once stood in Palestine, but it was more than a thrift store. It was her ministry to help others.

"Sometimes people would need clothes, or food. Sometimes we would pay for them to stay in hotel rooms, or we would let them stay there," said Jorgensen. "It just depended on the circumstance."

There were 3 men staying the night Friday and one girl, who Jorgensen says was living with her at the time.

"She was going to church with us, and she was pretty much part of the family. She was suppose to be baptized on Sunday. It's just really hard," said Jorgensen.

It was that night that Jorgensen let the girl visit her boyfriend at thrift store.

"She had asked me to spend the night, and I told her she could," said Jorgensen. "I usually didn't do that."

It was those two who never came out.

It took firefighters more than 15 hours to recover the bodies through the rubble.

"We are lucky we found the bodies," said Alan Wilcher, the Palestine Fire Chief. "That was the main priority. Our primary concern was finding them. We had to dig through rubble little by little."

It was in those two those two that Jorgensen says she saw hope.

"The two people that had passed in this had been improving just leaps and bounds. It was awesome," said Jorgensen. "If I'd ever dreamed something like this would happen, I wouldn't have been there doing it in the situation I had to do it in."

Through tragedy, Jorgensen is keeping faith.

"Something good will come out of this because there was too much good happening for a tragedy to stop continuing the good," said Jorgensen.

"She cared for people, and she didn't want to see anyone suffer," said Wilcher.

The bodies were sent to Tyler for an autopsy to confirm the identity of the two people who died in the fire.

If you have any information about the fire, you are urged to contact Palestine Fire or Police.

The fire department is asking witnesses for pictures or videos they may have taken to help with their investigation.

Firefighters are still investigating what started the fire.

Copyright 2013 KLTV. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly