Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

December 24, 2013

House fire destroys home, kills family cat

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — A pet was killed and a garage destroyed Sunday afternoon during a fire believed to have been caused by an electrical short in the garage of a residence in the 1800 block of O'Keefe, the Jacksonville Fire Department reported.

Jacksonville Fire Chief Paul White said the home — owned by Dr. Kendra Verhelle, a Jacksonville physician — caught on fire shortly before 1 p.m. Sunday because of the short caused by a power strip overloaded with plugs.

"They had a lot of stuff on the power strip," the chief said. "They had a pet cat in the garage, and it killed the cat, and did a lot of damage to the garage. There was a tremendous amount of damage to the whole house. The smoke was all thick in the garage."

There were eight firefighters called to the scene, all of whom spent about an hour and a half fighting it, reports show.

The fire basically gutted the garage and everything in it, but the main damage to the adjoining house was from smoke, he said.

Almost immediately after the fire at a nearby residence, in an unrelated incident, a man fell off one roof and landed onto another one, breaking his leg and requiring transport to a local hospital, the chief said.