Five young men walking in the 600 block of West Milam Street at about 9:30 Thursday morning kicked open the door of a burning house and made a quick call to firemen, but by then it was too late to save the one-story brick home.
Fortunately, no one was home when Derek Morón and his friends saw thick. black smoke billowing from 609 W. Milam. Morón said he kicked in the door and yelled to see if anyone was inside. By then, he said, “there was so much smoke” that he had to back out of the doorway and call 911.
The Beeville Volunteer Fire Department had a pumper truck on scene within minutes and fireman Kirk Delgado quickly hooked up the first line to the truck. Firemen rushed through thick smoke to the east side of the house but by then the southeast wind had fanned the heat and flames into the attic and saving the house was almost impossible.
Fire Chief Donnie Morris said he knew when he arrived at the scene shortly after hearing the call on the radio that it would be hard to stop the fire before it gutted the residence.
Meanwhile the young men, Morón, Kevin Medina, John Garcia, Jerrod Henry and Manuel DeLeon, could do no more than stand back and watch the flames consume the residence. They were surprised to see how quickly the flames consumed the building.
Morris said one of the residents, Adelfa “Daffy” Garcia arrived at the scene as firemen were fighting the blaze and she assured him that no one had been inside.
Firemen were on all four sides of the house forcing water into the attic and into the rooms where the majority of the flames were burning. But by then their efforts were limited to keeping from spreading to surrounding property.
By that point Beeville firemen had called upon fire units from Pettus and Skidmore to come to Beeville to provide backup at the fire station in case they received a call at another location.
With two pumpers, the department’s compressed air foam truck and the BVFD’s rescue truck all at the scene, firemen in town were stretched to the limit.
Assistant Fire Chief Lanny Holland, who was in charge at the scene, said family members were put in contact with the American Red Cross and the Beeville Vineyard, where they could possibly get some assistance. Friends of the family said the Garcias had no insurance. One family member who is diabetic lost all of her medication in the blaze.
People who know the family said the home belonged to Aurelio and Maria Garcia but the father passed away some time back and the mother has been hospitalized in San Antonio. The woman who arrived at the scene and a sister, Elsa Garza, were the only ones living there at the time.
“It looked like a total loss,” Holland said. He was at the rear (south) end of the house when the flames broke through a roof area and Holland said firemen knew when they heard the wind “whoosh” through the attic that saving anything of the home would be almost impossible.
Holland said the majority of the damage was in a bedroom on the west side of the home and firemen currently are assuming that was where the fire started. He said Thursday afternoon that no one yet has been able to pin point the cause of the blaze.
Friends of the victims have established a special account at the International Bank of Commerce where people may deposit money to help the family recover from their loss.