— By JUDY SHERIDAN
ALEDO – Alerted by a neighbor who saw flames coming from the garage and knocked at the door, a woman and two children escaped unharmed from a burning home in the 300 block of Feed Lot Road in Aledo Wednesday morning, according to Fire Marshal Shawn Scott.
The family’s cat, however, died in the blaze, ESD No. 1 Assistant Chief Stephen Watson said.
Fire departments from Aledo, Willow Park, Hudson Oaks and Silver Creek began arriving at the scene at 8:01 a.m., following the first call to dispatch at 7:57 a.m., Scott said.
The firefighters were able to stop the progression of the fire — which appeared to originate in the garage and engulfed the attic as well — in about 35 minutes, saving many of the family’s belongings.
“The house is borderline totalled. The electrical system is gone,” Scott said, “but they were able to collect their personal belongings and memories.”
Scott said the husband was already at work when his wife closed the garage door and went inside to take a shower — some 10 to 15 minutes before the fire was reported.
“I’m leaning toward mechanical failure in the garage door opener,” he said, when asked to pinpoint the cause.
“The homeowner reported the door was hanging. I went through the electrical panel and couldn’t find anything wrong except for a few wires where the garage door comes in.”
Scott said an insurance company will determine whether the fire was the result of a wiring failure or a mechanical failure of the opener.
Although one firefighter at the site guessed propane might have been a factor, Scott said a grill stored in the garage functioned as it should have, with valves popping off to relieve the pressure.
“It made for some nice flames, but no violent explosion,” he said.
Next-door neighbor Nicole Hubert said she went outside with her daughter around 7:50 a.m. and heard “popping noises.”
“I looked over and the garage was completely engulfed in flames,” she said. “The doors had already collapsed, even the grass was on fire. I called 911 and the fire trucks came.”
Hubert said the family was renting the small brick house and had been their neighbors for at least two years. She said they were able to evacuate their dogs.