An east Texas soldier struggling with a major illness is given another blow when his home was consumed by an early morning fire.
Investigators say lightning sparked the house fire around 3:00 am on McCoy Road just off Highway 64 east, near Tyler.
The fire was not only a total loss for the soldier, but as KLTV 7 News' Layron Livingston saw today, it was also a loss for the his father who watched that gift built in love go up in smoke.
The scene, early this morning, was flames shooting into the air over the house. "They were putting it out when we came," says Leo Renteria.
"We had a big front porch up there, and then we had a big living room going across here."
All of it is a pile of ashes. Renteria says it took him nearly a year to build the 1,200 square foot home as a gift for his son, Army Staff Sgt. David Renteria.
"We spent last weekend there on the front porch...grilling out. He was really enjoying this house a lot, and I was enjoying it too, because it's nice to have him living close to me," laughed Renteria.
Leo says he and David are very close. Leo was even his best man at his wedding.
Sgt. Renteria is based in Kileen, but earlier this week he was in San Antonio for surgery. While serving his country on the streets of Iraq, David developed skin cancer and had to have it removed.
But not even 6 years in the military could prepare him for the news about his home.
"He was upset, he's definitely very upset," says Renteria. "He asked me how bad it was. I told him - there's nothing left."
And, while his son away from home, Dad is picking up the pieces.
"I can sit here and cry, and do whatever, but it's not going to change anything."
He's now preparing to build another home for his son - and friend - in the near future.
Sgt. Renteria hopes to travel to Tyler later this week to see the damage for himself. He had lived in the home for only a few months before the fire.