In wake of 2 house fires, Nacogdoches Co. VFDs urge caution in heating rural homes

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Volunteer fire departments have been busy the last couple of evenings in northern Nacogdoches County.

A second house fire in two nights happened Wednesday evening. The frequency sends a strong precautionary message to rural residents living in remote areas.

A dog has nothing more to keep guard over. A one-room garage converted into a home for its owner is destroyed by fire. Resident Trisha Worsham wasn't there when neighbors noticed the blaze.

"The neighbor who spotted the fire stated he did see flames coming out of the front door and also the side windows, so it's apparent it did start from inside the home," said Bobby Brashears, the chief of the Lilbert-Looneyville VFD.

Everything inside burned. A wood-burning stove was left standing. It's what kept Worsham warm.

"She had a wood burning stove and a little gas stove for warmth and she had put those out before she left, so at the present time we are unable to determine what caused the fire to start," Brashears said.

The same sort of heat was used by a man in a Tuesday night fire. The elderly man was severely burned. He's now in critical condition at a Shreveport hospital. The incident sent a powerful message to the neighbor who came to his rescue.

"We spoke to our kids last night," said Preston Weatherly, the man's neighbor. "We actually have a wood-burning stove and we actually went into more detail with them about the wood burning stove."

Both structures are in remote areas. People living far away from help need to be extra careful.

"The closest fire department still may be 10 miles away," said James Russell, the assistant fire chief of the Central Heights VFD.  "It takes a little bit to get there."

And lots of times, there's not much that can be done once firefighters do get there.

"It was so small that it was actually burned up before we even got here," Brashears said.

Firefighters know from experience. The house that once went with the converted garage was destroyed in a fire over a year ago.

An investigator with the Nacogdoches Fire Department is looking deeper into the cause of yesterday's fire. Agencies frequently assist one another. At least five departments responded to the recent fires in Nacogdoches County.

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