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Fire destroys Pettus home but not family
by Paul Gonzales
Jan 25, 2013 | 2492 views | 1 1 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Paul Gonzales photo
Antonia Moreno stands where her house was before it caught fire Monday, Jan. 21. Only a few charred boards and memories remain of the over 50-year-old home. Donations are being accepted at 218 N. Milam St. in Pettus.
Paul Gonzales photo Antonia Moreno stands where her house was before it caught fire Monday, Jan. 21. Only a few charred boards and memories remain of the over 50-year-old home. Donations are being accepted at 218 N. Milam St. in Pettus.
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Paul Gonzales photo
Pieces of the Moreno home were placed in piles for pickup where the home once stood. The family hopes to receive enough donations to put a new double-wide trailer in its place.
Paul Gonzales photo Pieces of the Moreno home were placed in piles for pickup where the home once stood. The family hopes to receive enough donations to put a new double-wide trailer in its place.
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PETTUS — Pulling up to the Moreno residence in Pettus, there’s a distinct odor of burnt debris.

And to the left of a trailer and small house are huge piles of blackened wood and charred memories from more than 50 years of living in the home.

Seventy-eight-year-old Antonia Moreno had been living in the house with two of her daughters when the accident occurred Monday.

Her daughter, Diana Moreno, who lives a few yards away, had gone into her mother’s house to get some coffee and noticed her mother was out feeding the animals.

Her other two sisters were in the house when Diana left and returned to her house shortly before the fire began.

“My sister came out running and yelling, ‘Mom, hurry up; there’s smoke in the house,’” Diana said.

“So, mom took off back to the house, and by the time she made it inside, it was already catching on fire.

“Mom yelled at me, ‘Hurry, mija! The house is on fire!’

“I thought she was joking.”

Diana grabbed the water hose and tried to keep the fire from spreading to the rest of the house.

“But it just went out of control.

“I called 911, and the fire departments came over.

“The thing is there had been a wreck earlier in Tuleta, so Tuleta’s fire department hardly had any water.”

The Pettus, Tuleta, Normanna, Beeville and Pawnee fire departments all showed up to try and put out the flames that were already engulfing the Moreno home.

What actually started the blaze may never be discovered.

“We’re not sure what caused the fire,” Fire Chief Robert Rodgers mentioned.

“We think it was an electrical short, but we’re not 100 percent (certain).

“We don’t have a fire marshal, so we can’t really investigate it.”

And so, a few hefty piles of burnt rubble is all that remains of the family’s home.

“Everything my mother had, what she was paying on, what was already paid for and all the memories from the past.

“It’s hard when you lose something like that,” Diana said, fighting back tears.

While the family has lost nearly everything except the clothes on their back, people have come and lent a helping hand and shown their support.

“The community has come in, especially my brother’s friends and the people he works for – people he knew.

“My little brother, too, has friends, and they’re all pitching in.

“Some other friends donated a living room set and a table with chairs.”

The Helping Hands organization came through also with groceries, extra clothing and even donated a microwave so Antonia can still have her morning coffee.

And Walmart pharmacist Floyd Wolff came through as well, replacing all of Antonia’s prescriptions that were lost in the fire.

“Everybody’s helping out,” Diana said.

“We have started little donations.

“With all the money from the donations, we’re going to put it down on a double-wide.”

So, as the family picks up and moves on — though the pain of losing all their personal belongings may never heal — they are grateful for their safety and the things they didn’t lose.

Each other.

Anyone wanting to help the Moreno family can do so by going by 218 N. Milam St. in Pettus and dropping off clothes or monetary funds.

Also, the American Red Cross assisted at the scene Monday morning.

Red Cross volunteers provided assistance for food and clothing with the help of the community. Financial donations can also be made by visiting http://www.redcross.org/ or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.
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qtawater
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January 26, 2013
the one truck that responded from Tuleta was a small "quick attack" truck. It was never intended to fight any size of structure fire, reguardless of the amount of water it had on it, which happens to be less than 500 gal. That is not any where enough water in the best of cercumstances.