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2009-07-09 digital edition

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2009-07-09 / Front Page

House Fire Destroys Home and Contents

No injuries, but cause unknown

Lexington EMS EMT Linda Patschke checks on an Elgin firefighter after he came out of a house fire last Friday afternoon. The temperature outside was 104 degrees, not including the heat from the blaze. The heat around the burning structure was much higher and it was obvious to Patschke that the firefighter was suffering some heat-related fatigue. Lexington EMS EMT Reuel Cooper can be seen in the background, watching Patschke check the firefighter. Lexington EMS EMT Linda Patschke checks on an Elgin firefighter after he came out of a house fire last Friday afternoon. The temperature outside was 104 degrees, not including the heat from the blaze. The heat around the burning structure was much higher and it was obvious to Patschke that the firefighter was suffering some heat-related fatigue. Lexington EMS EMT Reuel Cooper can be seen in the background, watching Patschke check the firefighter. Last Friday afternoon the Lexington Volunteer Fire Department responded to an alarm in the Willow Creek Subdivision, near the Lee/Bastrop County line. The intial report was that a singlewide mobile home had exploded and it was feared that six people were inside. Thankfully, the report of people inside was incorrect, but Mike Butler and his wife, Casey, along with their four children, lost everything they had owned to the fire that destroyed the home located on Deer Valley Drive west of Lexington. They were renting the home from Alcoa.

Tara Barnikow, a friend of the family said, "Casey was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer eight weeks ago and has been on chemo and radiation everyday for treatments. She was in the hospital last week for five days due to dehydration and got out on Thursday with some good news - that the cancer may be gone. However, she was told she still needs to continue treatment for two more weeks to finish up."

Barnikow continued, "She woke up on Friday morning feeling better than she had in the past and told her family, 'Let's go to town and get out of the house.' They had just left the house at 1:30 p.m. to go to Austin and then received a call at 2:45 p.m. from the Sheriff's department telling them their house was on fire. They dropped the kids off at a friend's house and came back home to find that nothing was left. Karl and I were there waiting for them to come back and help them if needed."

Lexington's Volunteer Fire Department had four trucks at the blaze, Blue VFD had two, and Elgin's Fire Department had three. Lexington's EMS and Elgin's Guardian Ambulance Service also responded to the fire, along with two deputies from the Lee County Sheriff's Department and members of the Bastrop County Sheriff's Department.

Mickey Milburn, with LVFD, said, "We fought the fire for at least two or three hours and were called back out at about midnight due to some fence posts burning. The area was very wooded and it burned at least 20 acres, even though I heard one report of it burning as much as 50 acres. At one point the fire was within inches of a neighbor's house."

Elgin's Fire Chief Liston Crim said their investigator, Jared Jarmin, was called out to the scene to begin the preliminary investigation.

Jarmin said, "We cannot confirm the cause of the fire at this time. We had heard that there was an explosion in the home, but I didn't find any evidence to confirm that report. The Lee County Sheriff's Department requested that the State Fire Marshal be involved. Deputy Janine Mather with the State Fire Marshal's office was on the scene Monday morning, and from what I understand, she will continue the investigation for at least another week trying to determine the cause of the fire."

Since the Butler family had no rental insurance, Knobbs Springs Baptist Church has organized a "Fire Shower" fundraiser for them that will happen this Sunday following the regular morning worship. The event will include a covered dish meal.

Barnikow said, "Anyone interested in participating in helping out this family, please join us at the Fire Shower. They are in need of everything you can think of from food, to household items, to tools and more. Whatever you would like to give would be greatly appreciated. Items they have been given include a couch, card table, one twin bed, one queen bed, three TVs, one DVD player, a dresser, some clothes, and six towels. Alcoa found them another home to move into last Monday."

For a list of other items the family needs, see page A2 of today's paper.

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