“If you have tall grass around your house, mow it,” he said. “Grass this high won’t burn like that,” the firefighter added as he held a space between his thumb and forefinger.
The home that burned was at the end of the lane just south of Beeville off U.S. Highway 181.
Trucks from the Beeville Volunteer Fire Department arrived at the scene just minutes after Fire Chief Donnie Morris got there. But by then it was already too late to save the house.
The flames had ignited tall and matted dry grass just south of the burning home. But they spread north in seconds, fanned by a hot south wind.
When Morris arrived, a bystander quickly told him he thought there was a man in the house and that he was refusing to leave the building.
By then thick smoke was being blown from the ceiling through the eaves around the roof. Morris said he had tried to get inside, holding a fire extinguisher.
But he had no luck finding anyone inside. So Morris walked around the outside of the building shouting for anyone who might be inside.
Finally, Morris was told that the man had managed to get safely out of the home.
By that point much of the east side of the house was burning and flames were spreading quickly from the back (south) side of the house through to the front (north) wall.
Within minutes the entire north wall was in flames and there would have been no one inside who could have gotten out of the house.
Meanwhile, the spreading grass fire ignited part of a wooden privacy fence at a house just south of the burning structure but fire trucks which were trying to stop the spread of the grass fire managed to douse the flames on the fence.
Minutes later firefighters and trucks from the Normanna Fire Department and Skidmore Fire Department arrived at the scene.
One sad reminder of the damage a raging grass fire can do showed up in the form of a small kitten walking across charred grass behind the burning home.
The cat appeared to be uninjured but it had definitely gotten into some ashes from the burned grass.
Later a unit from the Texas Forest Service arrived at the scene and helped to extinguish the flames on the burning house.
Other vehicles at the scene included the BVFD’s new tanker truck and three brush trucks.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5220, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.