Spc. Kristie Aponte arrived at Fort Hood three weeks ago. On Saturday, she lost everything.
Her home at Pershing Park was destroyed after a fire broke out.
She said she was next door at her neighbor’s house cutting a watermelon when the blaze began around 5:45 p.m. She first smelled something burning and the two began checking appliances in the kitchen. Then another neighbor knocked on the door, alerting them.
“I have two yorkies,” said Aponte, a soldier with 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. “They were kenneled. ... I was able to go over there and just grab and go.
“I got in my car and moved my vehicle. We ended up clearing the area before emergency vehicles (came),” she said.
Fort Hood Family Housing received notification of the fire at 6:10 p.m. Saturday, and said it began in a vehicle at the Yeakel Street duplex. Flames quickly spread to the carport and the rest of the home, according to a family housing news release. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Aponte said her side of the duplex suffered mostly water and smoke damage, but the other side completely burned. Fort Hood Family Housing has been taking care of her, and she is staying with her neighbor until housing can move her into a new home. Her husband is working abroad.
Ash Wells, spokesperson for Operation Once in a Lifetime, said the nonprofit is in contact with both families displaced by the fire and helping in any way possible. While she is waiting on specifics from the Pershing Park mayor, who is working with the families, she knows they need home goods.
“We just want to help them, and any donations they can’t use can go to another military family,” Wells said. “We want to help this family replace everything in their house if possible.”
While the nonprofit’s resale shop in downtown Killeen is closed for renovations this week, Wells said donations are being accepted. To donate, call 254-233-1441 for large item pickup, or drop off items at 315 E. Avenue C.
Contact Rose L. Thayer at email@example.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.
Sarah Rafique contributed to this report.