Family's Home Destroyed in Fire

A John Tyler basketball coach is facing a major loss.

Kenneth Bickham, coach of the women's varsity basketball team, lost his home in a fire Thursday afternoon. It happened inside Briarwood Estates on Lamb Drive, just off Spur 364.

The fire started in Bickham's garage while he was working on his computer. Fire investigators say fuel from two vehicles inside the garage accelerated the blaze, making it impossible for Bickham to put it out. A cause is not yet known.

Concern grew in Bickham's neighborhood as residents questioned the response time of firefighters. Tyler and Dixie Fire Department responded to the emergency call.

Witnesses at the scene claimed it took trucks 45 minutes to get there. "I got here before the fire trucks," said neighbor W.M. Hoize. "I was called after they were called. So, I don't know whether it could have been saved if they got here earlier. This may have happened because we live outside Tyler, it's something we have to look into."

An incident report, released by Tyler Fire Department, shows an engine truck was on scene  18 minutes after the first emergency call.  They contained the fire before it spread to a neighboring home, but Bickham's home is a complete loss. He lived there with his wife and young child.

"They're hurt," says Jesse Rider, Bickham's father-in-law. They've never lost anything of this magnitude. This is devastating to them, but they're handling it quite well."