Home destroyed in Granite Shoals fire

Glynis Crawford Smith/The Highlander

From Briar Park at 518 Shorewood Drive, the Saturday afternoon conflagration that claimed the next home in the 500 block can be seen raging. 'It had been in the family 55 years,' said one of the homeowners said at the scene. "We had just finished the remodel.' Find more scenes from the disaster in a photo album on The Highlander page of Facebook -- http://bit.ly/2JQt213.

This story has been updated For the Tuesday, April 17, edition of The Highlander.




By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

A newly remodeled lakefront home in Granite Shoals went up in flames fed by high winds that had Lake LBJ covered in whitecaps on Saturday, April 14.

The call came in at 3:55 p.m. and, in less than an hour, the two-story, 4,000-square-foot home at 509 North Shorewood Drive was reduced to cinders.
The owners, Daniel and Martha Horan said they were returning from the Bluebonnet Festival in Burnet when they saw the smoke of the blaze rising up from their house. At almost the same time, their son, Colby, awoke to stifling smoke inside.
“We had just finished remodeling,” said Martha. “It has been in the family 55 years and it is the whole family's favorite place.”
He escaped with minimal injuries, barefoot and carrying only his computer and his parent's dog, Lucy, in his arms. He called to his own large dog, Zoe, but as the family watched the inferno consume their home, began to fade for the beloved black Labrador retriever.
It still was not known whether Zoe froze and did not follow her master outside or whether she has fled into the neighborhood.
"She could have done that," said one of the homeowners. "She could easily jump our fence."
“If anyone sees the animal, please call dispatch at 830-598-4818 and we'll obtain the dog to return to the family,” said Granite Shoals Police Sgt. Chris Decker. “We will return the dog to the family.”
At the scene, the owners said they had no idea how the fire started. However, on Monday morning fire chief Austin Stanphill and officers from the Texas State Fire Marshal's office were conducting an examination of the scene to see if more could be learned.
“This is not being deemed a criminal investigation,” Sgt. Decker said.
The fire literally roared and groaned in the 20 mph, plus, winds that raced across Lake LBJ. The flames were so intense they reduced a car that remained in the garage to scrap. It was the owner's understanding that fire hoses could not quite reach their home from the nearest fire hydrant and that the pumper truck's supply was soon exhausted.
Remarkably, firefighters were able to save the homes of nearby neighbors from structural damage. Throughout, Granite Shoals Fire Rescue, other area fire departments personnel put out small fires on nearby lots that were caused by flying embers from the home and a construction dumpster that caught fire next door. Texas Parks & Wildlife game wardens, and Texas Department of Public Safety officers provided perimeter control for the fire operations and helped spot the small fires. Neighbors turned on lawn sprinklers and broke out garden hoses to wet down their landscape.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the affected families in of this incident,” said Sgt. Decker.
Late Monday, after Stanphill had completed an examination of the scene with the fire marshal, he confirmed that no accelerants were detected and no malicious intent was found.
“By the time we got to the house Saturday, it was fully involved,” said Stanphill. “We were without water briefly. Since the home was more than 1,000 feet from the nearest fire hydrant we had to draft water from the lake, but the depth at the waterfront was only three feet. We actually had to jump into the water and pull the draft hose out to a greater depth to function properly.
“With it fully involved, we had to go defensive and protect surrounding buildings.”
“Colby was lucky they had smoke detectors,” he said. “He first woke up to the detectors going off. If they had not had them, he might not have gotten out alive.”
Stanphill spoke with The Highlander Monday on his way back to the fire hall after installing smoke detectors for a resident.
“People have been calling and asking us to install detectors, after seeing what that fire did,” he said. “From $3 donations residents make on their water bills and from the Granite Shoals Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary we can do that free at homeowners request.
“We can even come and replace batteries, if that is difficult for someone.”

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