The fire broke out from a home in southeast Houston as firefighters worked to bring it under control in freezing temperatures overnight.
The fire was reported on Bonner Street near Radcliffe around 10:45 p.m. Thursday.
ABC13 reporter Courtney Fischer spoke to the homeowner, Mike, as he stood by what was left of his home. His dog Stella won’t leave his side.
His neighbors brought him coffee and hot breakfast.
Mike, a Vietnam War veteran, has lived in this house since 1984. He said that when it gets cold, he turns on the heater.
He said he had set up a space heater in the back bedroom around 10:30 p.m. Thursday. He wants to keep his pets warm.
“I suppose that’s where it started because that’s where I put the space heater on last night,” Mike said.
He lives at home alone with eight dogs and four cats.
He woke up to find smoke and fire filling his house. A neighbor banged on the door to warn him of the fire.
He was able to get out safely, but since the fire he has only been able to find his 4 dogs.
Mike said: “I have a smoke detector, but the one in the kitchen, I don’t know if it went off or not.
When the temperature dropped to the 20s, Mike thought only of his pets. He said he would do anything to keep them warm.
“I don’t want them to be cold right now. I don’t want to be away from them, but that’s what’s best for them. I need to put them somewhere safer than this,” he said.
Mike is a retired METRO driver. He has been a bus driver for the City of Houston for nearly 20 years.
He has a lot of neighbors and friends in the community who are helping him. The Red Cross will also help him find a place to stay for the night.
Experts say you should take the following precautions when using space heaters:
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the fireplace
- Plug the heater into a wall outlet, not an electrical outlet
- Remember to turn off the heater before going to bed
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