Family forced to start over after fire, without pets - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Family forced to start over after fire, without pets

By Samantha Jordan – bio| email

HOPKINS COUNTY, TX (KLTV) – A Hopkins County family lost everything on Monday when an empty room caught fire and spread throughout the house.

The fire broke out early Monday off of Hwy 11, just outside of Sulphur Springs.

What took the Willis family years to build only took minutes to be destroyed.

"There was nothing we could do. We just had to let everything go, and now we know that there isn't anything salvageable. And we got to start all over, and we didn't have any insurance," said Chris Willis.

Chris says he woke around 6 a.m. to the smell of smoke, "When I opened up that door, it was just like opening up a dragon's mouth. The fire just shot out and I ducked, and it singed my hair, and it got my back."

Within seconds, he and his family were out of the home. Soon after, they called for help.

The house was well evolved when we arrived. Response time was about 8 minutes, which is very good for a rural area," says Deputy Fire Marshal Harold Watkins.

Watkins says it took over twenty-five firefighters to put out the fire. And while the family was fortunate enough to escape the flames, their dogs and cats were not.

"I tried to save them. I tried to open the window. [I] heard them crying, and I couldn't get to them," exclaimed Cathy Willis.

While they're still mourning their pets, starting over is nothing new for the Willis family.

"It's just going to be like when we first got married. We didn't have anything, and we're just going to start up all over. That's all we can do," says Chris.

The Red Cross has arranged for the family to stay at a hotel for the next few days.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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