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Man says his snoring saved his family in early morning house fire

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A Chapel Hill family is thanking more than a breathing machine for saving their lives in an early morning fire Tuesday.  The fire started just after midnight in the Lake Shore Drive community, near Chapel Hill. Bobby Hester said his snoring woke his family up just in time.

The Hesters said they had only been asleep for about an hour when the fire started.

Bobby Hester believes there's one reason his family was able to wake up.

"I use a CPAP machine because I have sleep apnea and I guess I started snoring, and I woke my wife up," Hester said. "She said 'turn on your machine.'"

Hester said that's when he realized the electricity was out on one side of the house. After trying to fix the circuit breakers, Dixie Hester noticed it was no longer dark in the house.

"She walked back into the dining room and she said she saw a bright glow in the yard," Hester said. "She opened the mini-blinds and it was very clear something wasn't right, so we both came out the front door and the house was on fire at the top of the house."

The husband and wife grabbed their 14-year-old daughter Hannah from her bedroom in the front of the house and ran outside with their dog and cat.

"The house burned very, very quickly it seemed," Hester said.

Tuesday, Bobby Hester was able to recover a few family heirlooms from the home.

"It saddens my heart, but after a while you realize it's just stuff, and the most important thing is we're still intact," Hester said.

Dixie Hester said they were able to stay at a neighbor's house Tuesday morning and that more than 50 people have dropped off donations since.

"So many people have come to help us and offered help in any kind of way; clothes, money donations," Hester said. "I just want to say to them I really do appreciate all of their generosity, and it's heartfelt."

The Hesters said they will be able to rebuild the house they built in 2002, thanks to the need for his CPAP machine.

"If it hadn't been for that, I don't know what the outcome would have been because I'm a pretty sound sleeper and my wife is, too," Hester said. "But we all made it out safely and if that's the Lord's way of doing it, that's fine enough for me, you know."

At this time, the cause of the fire has not been determined. Two funds and a fundraiser have been set up to help the Hester family. An account has been set up for the family at the Altra Federal Credit Union. Donations can be made to the Hester benefit fund in both Tyler locations.

American State Bank in Tyler also set up a fund. Donations can be made at the Horseshoe Club Lake fire fund for Bobby and Dixie Hester.

In addition, friends have organized a softball tournament and cookout, with proceeds going to the Hester family. The tournament starts Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Chapel Hill little league field.

For those with an interest in making clothing donations:

  • Hannah, 14, wears a small shirt size, a size three or five in pants, and a shoe size of 10.
  • Bobby wears a size 33/32 in pants, a large shirt, and a 9.5 shoe.
  • Dixie wears a size six or seven in pants, a medium shirt, and a size 8 shoe.

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