A 76-year-old Nacogdoches man is in fair condition after a house fire that occurred in the 3200 block of East Main Street early Tuesday morning.
A press release from the Nacogdoches Fire Department stated that NFD firefighters responded to a report of a house fire in the 3200 block of East Main Street at about 4 a.m. Tuesday morning. When they arrived on the scene, they found the home engulfed in smoke and flames.
Firefighters did a quick search of the home, and they found Elmer Tucker in the back bedroom. After the NFD firefighters rescued the man from the blaze, they took him to Nacogdoches County Memorial's Emergency Room for treatment.
The fire is currently under investigation by the City of Nacogdoches' Fire Marshal's Office.
Sherry Lathan told the East Texas News that Earl Skinner, the home owner, had been letting her live in the house as a favor. She said she was smoking a cigarette in bed, which started the fire.
"The way it happened - it shouldn't have," Lathan said. I can't turn the clock back, but I'm really, really sorry. I'm really sorry."
Lathan said that she's sorry that it happened, and feels bad for the family's loss. She said that she hopes they will forgive her, but she won't rush it.
Skinner's family arrived Tuesday afternoon to help with the cleanup at the home where he has lived for the past 35 years. He showed off his mother's gun, which was burned in the fire.
"It's been in the family a long time, and I don't think I'll ever build it back," Skinner said.
Skinner said he got Lathan, April Chamberlain, and Tucker, his brother-in-law, out of the house.
'There was smoke coming out of the top of the house, so I got everybody out," Skinner said.
It was only then that he ran for help.
"I had to go down the street to call 911 because my phone was in the smoke," Skinner said.
When he returned, he discovered the unexpected. Tucker had re-entered the burning house.
"It was too bad for me to go in here and get him out," Skinner said.
Nacogdoches firefighters went into the burning home and made a daring rescue.
"They went in and found him out in the hall on the floor," Skinner said,
Tucker's sister said her brother is sedated and is in fair condition. Skinner hopes he will recover, so he can ask him one question.
"Why did you go back in there?" Skinner asked.
Skinner's family quickly came to his aid. One son tried to keep the situation light. However, laughter was difficult while the anger toward a person who made a horrible mistake remains.
"Oh yes, I'll get over it," Skinner said. "I'm not going to be angry with her, but I'm angry with her."
When she was asked whether she is hoping for forgiveness, Lathan said, "Yeah. In due time, but I ain't going to rush it."
The Red Cross is providing Skinner with money to run a generator.
Although his family members all have houses he could stay at, Skinner said he's not leaving. He said he plans to string a tarp and continue living on the property.