Fire destroys home of East Texas mom and three kids

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Sara Story - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A fire destroyed everything in an East Texas family home. It happened at the Sweet Union Apartment Complex in Jacksonville. Fortunately, the single mom and her three children were not home at the time.

Jenilee DeLeon and her three children walked through what's left of their two bedroom apartment. Their possessions are now nothing more than ash. "It took me a long time to get all of this. It's not much. I know it's material stuff, but it was my home," said DeLeon.

Her memories also went up in flames. Pointing to a burned wall, DeLeon said, "All my pictures were right here."

She says the most important things were protected from the flames. Jenilee spent Wednesday night away from home with her kids. Thursday morning, a neighbor called and told her smoke was pouring out from her apartment. "I sit there sometimes and just think about it and just start crying because I don't know what to feel or think or say. I mean it's hard, I [didn't] think it would happen to me," said DeLeon.

Firefighters say it appears the fire started from bad wiring on a window air conditioning unit.

At age 23, Jenilee says she's lived a tough life. Less than a year ago, she moved herself and her three kids into their very own apartment.  "Finding jobs and stuff, that's hard right now...I don't have money for day care," said DeLeon.

"I'm just lost right now," said DeLeon. She may be lost, but she says she's hopeful. "The only thing I can do is move forward. I can't move back."

The Sweet Union Apartment Complex told Jenilee the fire caused too much damage to her apartment to move back in, and they will not be providing her with another unit. Management did not return our phone call.

If you want to donate money or replace items that were lost in the fire, there will be a fundraising barbeque Saturday at Buckner Park in Jacksonville from noon to sundown. For monetary donations, there is an account set up for the DeLeon family at Austin Bank.

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