Photo by Gary Rhodes, The Midland Reporter-Telegram
By Audrie Palmer, The Midland Reporter-Telegram
A family of four watched in shock and horror Wednesday night as their doublewide mobile home was reduced to a pile of rubble and ash after an accidental fire broke out in a bedroom.
Jean Holley Cunningham, a mother of two, said her husband, children and a friend had just sat down in the living room when they heard a popping noise coming from a back bedroom.
Her 15-year-old daughter, authorities later said, had left two unattended burning candles on a shelf and on a dresser. The fire then spread from the bedroom down the hallway and within minutes had engulfed the entire three bedroom, two bath home.
Cunningham choked up as she recalled trying to gather animals, including a 7-week-old Chihuahua puppy and several cats, and get them out of the burning home as quickly as possible.
She added that she and her husband John have lived in the residence, located in the 11000 block of West County Road 149, for the last four years. Friends told the Reporter-Telegram the husband had just built the fencing around the front of the house and building a writing room near the back of the home for Jean and was in the process of completing the front deck.
Units with the Midland Fire Department responded to the scene around 7:23 p.m. The first responders, Tankers 2 and 4, can only carry a limited supply of water and each brought 2,000 gallons, which were quickly used up, Battalion Chief Ken Whitting said.
With no fire hydrants and a limited water supply — well water pumps in the area only pump out a few gallons of water per minute and cannot supply the fire trucks — Whitting said, crews had to wait for volunteers from both the Greenwood and Northeast Volunteer Fire Departments to bring in extra water.
A total of 12 units were brought in to help control the blaze. By press time, Midland County Fire Marshal Dale Little said the fire was contained and firefighters were mopping up hot spots.
The Midland County Crisis Intervention Unit was dispatched to the scene as well. The Cunningham family, with their home a complete loss, said they will be staying with other family members for the time being.