Fire Burns Nearly 100 Acres, Destroys Home

A grass fire rips through nearly 100 acres in northern Smith County, destroying a home in the process.

The fire started around 3:00 p.m. just north of Interstate 20, east of FM 757 in Winona.

The investigation is still going on, but authorities think a boat-trailer had a blow out, sending sparks onto the grass along the service road.

The smoke could be seen from as far away as Tyler. More than half of the Smith County Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the fire which was quickly engulfing acre after acre.

Gail Shaw lives near the fire, and saw it when she was coming home from work this afternoon.  "I saw the smoke, and I was going to take a back road, and when I went to cut across the freeway, I said, 'No!' There was more smoke there," said Shaw.

With dry grass and high winds fueling it, the fire was making a beeline toward several homes, including Mike Lawson's.  "I walked outside through the trees and saw the smoke, back over off in there. So, I told my wife and daughter to get the dog, and we were going to get our vehicles out of there because we've got woods all around us," said Lawson.

The burning woods kept Mike's house hidden from most of the firemen. When  Smith County Assistant Fire Marshal Connie McCoy finally found it, the fire had already closed in on the house. She used a garden hose to try and save the structure, but when she couldn't get any water pressure, she realized the hose was burnt in two.

"I had fire all around me topping trees. The house was on fire. I was yelling for help and trying to get firemen down in there. I kept beating on the door and yelling for people, because I was afraid. It was a Sunday afternoon. What if someone was inside asleep," said McCoy.

No one was inside.

Instead, the Lawsons were watching the fire, which was destroying their home, from a few miles away.  "It's almost too much to even think about, because everything we have is all in there," said Mike.

Seven other homes were also in danger. Firefighters and homeowners worked side by side and were able to protect the rest of them.

However, the Lawsons lost everything. They say it's overwhelming to think about that right now. Instead, they're just thankful that the whole family made it out safe.

Lindsay Wilcox, Reporting.