LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - A mother of 3 in Lufkin said she was “so thankful” for a student-athlete who woke her family up as fire destroyed their home early Wednesday morning.
Inside the home, Chelsea Moncrief, her three children, and her sister were sound asleep as flames and smoke filled her home.
Moncrief said she only woke up because Craig Pennington, 15, ran up to her home and alerted her family to danger.
“We had no indication, we had nothing, no warnings of the fire,” Moncrief said. “It was just ... I was very thankful they came through, and we were able to get out and get safe, you know?"
The Pineywoods Community Academy sophomore and his mother were on their way to Pennington’s 6:00 a.m. basketball practice when they noticed smoke in the air. The practice was called 30 minutes early, so it coincidentally put him in the right place at the right time. That’s when they realized a home on the way to school was on fire.
Pennington banged on the front door until Moncrief woke up. Moncrief gathered her children and the family dog, and everyone inside got out safely. Between that time and minutes later when the Lufkin Fire Department arrived, firefighters said the home was fully engulfed in flames.
“God gave me courage and strength,” Pennington said.
“I’m thankful that I could save their lives, and that God was with me there that day,” Pennington said.
“If they wouldn’t have came ... none of my smoke alarms went off,” Moncrief said. “So, me and my children and my sister, we would’ve just slowly [died] from all the smoke."
While everyone escaped without injury, the home is a total loss. Moncrief said she lost almost everything she owned in the fire. However, while picking through what remained of her home, Moncrief said she found all of her children’s Christmas presents nearly untouched in what was left of a closet. She also found the food she bought for the holidays in her kitchen freezer, still frozen and salvageable.
American Red Cross is now assisting the family in their time of need. Investigators with Lufkin Fire Department are investigating what caused the fire.