By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON - A fire on the outskirts of town destroyed two trailers Thursday, leaving an elderly woman and her neighbor homeless.
Felix Martinez said he set a barrel of paper and bags on fire just before 10 a.m. for what was supposed to be a controlled burn.
He then went to retrieve a bag from his home in the 2500 block of Fort Road near Stillhouse Hollow Lake. While inside his trailer, the 54-year-old man saw that another barrel filled with leaves was on fire.
When he returned outside, Martinez saw that the fire had spread to the corner of the trailer home of his neighbor, Elizabeth Mysinger.
Within an hour, the fire destroyed both residences. It also destroyed a vehicle and damaged a house in an adjacent lot next door.
"I just feel real bad that it had to happen this way," said Martinez. "I did everything I could to try to stop it."
Martinez speculated that ash from the trash barrel went into the barrel with the leaves. He attempted to put the fire out by running a garden hose to the area, but he didn't have any water pressure.
"I got all paranoid and didn't know what to do," he said.
Seeing the fire spreading, Martinez woke up Mysinger, a longtime Bell County resident, who said she was still in bed. He helped her out of her trailer and saved her cats.
The fire burned at least one propane tank, sending plumes of blue smoke into the air and creating a large blaze that reached higher than nearby tree tops, said Macie Roberts, a neighbor.
Belton firefighters, along with the Stillhouse Hollow Volunteer Fire Department, brought the fire under control, preventing the blaze from destroying the home on the adjacent lot.
On the side of Fort Road, Mysinger sat in a rocking chair in moccasins and a robe, stifling tears. She said the fire would likely mean her having to leave Bell County after 43 years.
"I will have no choice but to leave Texas," she said, noting that she would either move in with her daughter or into a nursing home in Missouri. Mysinger lived in the trailer for about 30 years, she said.
Martinez said he didn't know where he would spend Thursday night. "I don't have no where to go," he said.
Fire officials said the Red Cross will be available to help Mysinger and Martinez.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.