LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Authorities still don’t know what caused a house fire in the 1100 block of South First Street Monday morning.
The fire occurred between Casa Morales and Motel 6. Lufkin Fire Marshal Keith Cole said the vacant house had recently been purchased, and the new owner was in the process of remodeling it.
Cole said he has little to go on, other than the clues people are providing.
“I’m early in the investigation, but the few people I have talked to had seen what they call homeless people coming in and out of the house," he said.
The veteran fire marshal said he was pleased no one was found inside. He says trespassing is common this time of year.
“They’ll go in and try to keep warm. If there’s a fireplace they’ll sometimes start fires in the fireplace. I’m not saying that’s what happened on this fire, but it’s a possibility,” said Cole.
In fact, the uninsured homeowner told Cole that he had to run homeless people out of the house twice about a week ago. Cole said he cannot say whether that happened in this case, but it is a possibility.
Another possibility is that the fire was electrical. The homeowner was in the midst of remodeling.
No matter how it started, neighbors say, “I immediately called 911, and when I stepped out the door all you could see was the flames, like flames everywhere,” recalled Shavaughn Bains.
Flames were high enough to singe a tall oak tree in the front yard.
Dominic Holmes ran from Motel 6 to the blaze, feeling the radiant heat from across the street. Upon learning the house was vacant, he began to help nearby neighbors.
"I was trying to get them out of the house because the ashes it was still burning,” said Holmes. “It was flying over there, so I was trying to make sure everybody was safe."
The home was bulldozed by firefighters for safety reasons. The scene is compromised, but the investigation will continue.
Anyone with information should contact the Lufkin police or fire departments.
Cole said at this time, he has not been able to determine what exactly caused the fire. He said it will be difficult to determine.