RUSK COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - An early morning fire with no one at home destroys an East Texas home and turns out to be the residence of a first-responder.
It happened just after 5 Saturday morning at a home on county road 173 near FM 1249, just east of Kilgore.
A burned out shell is all that remains of an old wood home on county road 173, just east of Kilgore. In a raging fire at 5:40 this morning.
"The structure was probably about 40 percent involved, heavily on the B-side or the left side of the structure, fire venting out of the windows and the roof line when we arrived," says Kilgore fire captain Micheal Stanley.
On duty, Rusk County patrol deputy Clint Ruthven was called out to help.
“We actually received a 9-1-1 phone call from one of my neighbors. They gave an address that wasn’t close to mine so I was thinking that one of my neighbors' houses was on fire,” Ruthven says.
But as Clint was on his way to the fire to help, he realized it was his home that was burning.
"It wasn't a pleasant sight. It was a feeling that everything was taken away from me," he says.
Just across the Rusk County line, the rural area had no water hydrants, and tankers had to be used.
“One of the biggest challenges to fire in this and other rural fires is actually having a water supply to fight the fire,” Stanley says.
As the fire raged, Ruthven realized he had 2 dogs inside. One was his daughters favorite.
“We lost two puppies, a Chihuahua and a Shih-Tzu. My daughter favored the Shih-Tzu, That was her dog,” Clint says.
But for the deputy, the realization of something he had seen many times before from the other side.
"A catch 22 thing, where now I get a full understanding of how the victims feel. It could have been a lot worse. My daughter could have been here, or I could have been here," he says.
Crims Chapel, Overton, and Elderville fire units joined Kilgore fire in a cooperative effort in battling the blaze.
A state fire marshal is expected to visit the fire scene to determine what caused the blaze.