News

Blaze claims Forest Grove home

Woman flees after garage catches fire
By MIKE BROWN
Reporter Editor


Blaine Wall, RVFD firefighter, works on garage area of Hollins and Denyce Spence home during Friday blaze. 
Reporter/Mike Brown Blaine Wall, RVFD firefighter, works on garage area of Hollins and Denyce Spence home during Friday blaze. Reporter/Mike Brown Denyce Spence knew the sun didn’t come up on that end of her house.

The Forest Grove woman awakened to an orange glow Friday morning, shortly after hearing a “popping” sound, realized something was badly wrong and quickly headed for her front door.

That’s where she met neighbor Jerry Caldwell who had seen the blaze at the Hollins and Denyce Spence house from the road (CR 314), and rushed up the front walk to see if anyone was at home.

He escorted Mrs. Spence into the safety of her front yard.

It was the start of a fire that gutted the home and brought out most of the tight-knit Spence family, and many neighbors and friends, to offer help and encouragement.

The Rockdale Volunteer Fire Department, assisted by the Tanglewood VFD, battled the blaze for several hours.

GARAGE—Hollins Spence told The Reporter firefighters and insurance adjusters had looked at the house and, while it’s obvious the blaze began in the garage-carport, the cause is still under investigation.

“There was a freezer in the garage area that could have been the start, but we just don’t know,” Spence said. “It was probably electrical considering the popping sounds Denyce heard.”

Neighbor Caldwell, who was on his morning walk just down the street in front of the Rodney Spence home, uncle of Hollins, looked back down the road and saw a loose calf, one he knew the Hollins Spences had been bottle feeding in their garage.

Caldwell went back to catch the calf and saw smoke pouring from the garage.

He told The Reporter he initially believed the calf had knocked something over and started the fire.

“I guess that’s possible too,” Hollins Spence said. “But we just simply don’t know right now.”

The fire was reported at 8:09 a.m.

Hollins Spence was already at work at the Three Oaks Mine, about 40 minutes away and arrived during the fire.

FAMILY—Hollins and Denyce Spence are currently staying with his parents, Claude and Lanell Spence next door.

“We’re doing okay,” Hollins Spence said Monday. “People have been so nice and supportive. I’ve got a co-w0rker who even gave me a bunch of jeans.”

They’re taking it in stride. “Denyce had already been up to let the dog out, then she had just laid back down, so she wasn’t real sound asleep,” Hollins Spence said. “We’re all right. That’s the main thing.”

Hollins Spence’s father Claude and uncle Rod responded to the scene within minutes and pitched in to remove objects from the burning house and assist volunteer firefighters.

More photos, page 6C.


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The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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