HARKER HEIGHTS – A suspected electrical fire at a home in the 200 block of West Bob White Lane on Tuesday morning left a family of six homeless.
Taina Thipharacksa and her father, Miguel Melendez, were the only two in the home at the time of the fire. Neither sustained injuries. Thipharacksa’s husband, Sutto Thipharacksa, and their four children were not home.
“We can get the material stuff back, but you can’t get your life back,” Melendez said. “We turned off the breakers and moved some of the propane tanks out but when I went back in to get my wallet, just like that, the house was full of fire.”
Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Gallenstein said the Harker Heights Fire Department received the call at 10:15 a.m. and firefighters were on scene within three minutes. Two engines from Heights and one engine from Killeen were dispatched.
“By the time we arrived, it was defensive fire and 50 percent of the structure was engulfed in flames,” Gallenstein said. “The home is a total loss and we were very lucky no one was hurt.”
Thipharacksa and Melendez were cleaning up the kids’ room when they noticed a funny smell.
“We both smelled something funny, like wires melting,” Thipharacksa said. “We called our landlord and he called the electrician, and the next thing we knew there was a cloud of gray smoke that turned into black smoke and then we saw the fire coming out of the left side of our house.”
When Thipharacksa’s husband, Sutto, arrived at what was left of their home, he was speechless.
“My school books, my life, it’s all ashes,” he said. “Right when we were getting back on our feet, something like this happens to us.”
As Harker Heights fire crews were cleaning up and leaving the scene, a Red Cross representative arrived to help get the family situated with basic comforts.
Gallenstein said the cause of the blaze is being investigated by the fire marshal.