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Fire leaves Vietnam veteran without home

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A Wednesday morning fire displaced a Killeen Vietnam veteran from his home in the 2700 block of Terrace Drive.

“I have good friends and family, so I am straight,” Harry Purnell said while waiting to enter his home after firefighters responded to the incident at 7:59 a.m. Wednesday. “I will be well taken care of.”

The back of the home sustained fire and water damage and the power to the structure was cut off, making it uninhabitable, said Killeen Fire Department Deputy Chief Ken Hawthorne.

Along with friends and family, the American Red Cross also helped care for Purnell’s needs after the blaze.

“He has housing, food, clothing and shelter,” said Paul Ciraso, with the nonprofit aid organization. “We will talk to the client and try to get him back on track in a few days.”

If Purnell needs further assistance, the American Red Cross will schedule him appointments with the Salvation Army and other organizations as needed.

In good spirits, Purnell was happy to be out of the house before the fire spread through the home, he said.

He was eating breakfast when a passerby knocked on the door and told him his house was on fire, Purnell said.

“I didn’t even get her name,” he said.

Immediately after exiting the home, Purnell called 911.

When the first unit arrived on scene, the resident was already standing outside the home and flames and smoke were showing from the structure, Hawthorne said.

The blaze was extinguished by about 8:10 a.m., but the home’s kitchen and storage area did suffer heavy damage, he said.

Neighbors also heard a loud boom during the blaze, which may have been an oxygen tank owned by Purnell, Hawthorne said. There were several tanks inside one of the rooms by the fire.

Contact Mason W. Canales at ​mcanales@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7474

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