East Texas teen risks his life to save his family from house fir - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

East Texas teen risks his life to save his family from house fire

 A 16-year-old boy was able to save his younger sister from their burning home, but sadly his mother did not survive.

Van Zandt County fire marshal Chuck Allen says a space heater caught fire inside their mobile home in Fruitvale, TX, off of County Road 1129.

A pile of burned debris is all that's left of the family's home.

"Yesterday, I was here and there was a house here. Today, I'm here and there's not a house here and my family is gone too. It's just ... It's crazy," says Allen Wheler, a cousin of the victims.

There were five people inside when the mobile home caught on fire: a mother, her son and two daughters and a family friend.

"This was a preventable incident and hopefully some people will take this warning and learn from it and learn from this tragedy," says Allen.

Allen says once the 16-year-old boy realized his mother and 14-year-old sister could not get out of the home, he went outside, broke a window and pulled his sister to safety. The fire marshal says when the boy returned to save his mother, the smoke and heat were too much for him to handle.

"This 16-year-old boy is a true hero. He was able to pull his sister out of this burning house and in talking to him there's no doubt he gave it his all trying to get his mother out and I know he will live with that forever," Allen says.

Family members have already set up a memorial for 41-year-old Wendy Harris. Her cross says ‘fly high' because today her family says Wendy went to be with her husband.

"Three months ago today they lost their dad and then today they lose their mom and their house, it's like what else can you throw at these kids, you know?" Wheler asks.

Family members are now digging through the debris.

"We just thought if we could come up here and salvage a few things because they don't have anything left," says Donna Taylor, a relative of the family.

So far, family members have salvaged the Harris' wedding license and some family photos, photos they hope will help ease their loss.

The 14-year-old girl is being treated at Parkland Hospital in Dallas for burns and smoke inhalation.

Family members say doctors expect the girl to make a full recovery.

The 16-year-old boy was treated for cuts on his hands from breaking the window.

The family says donations can be dropped off at Fruitvale High School. 

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