WAXAHACHIE

Four residential units caught on fire after being struck by lightning around 1 a.m. Thursday.

The first structure caught fire at exactly 1 a.m. at 114 Morning Star Lane, when lightning struck a chimney and caught a house on fire. Waxahachie Assistant Fire Chief Randall Potter stated that three of the department's fire trucks responded to the call and were able to contain the fire to the attic.

"You've got fire almost instantly if anything takes a direct hit," expressed Jake Escamilla, Emergency Services District 6 Fire Chief. "When that lightning hits it, it's a big ball of fire."

Another lightning bolt struck an RV at around 1:54 a.m. at the Highway 287 RV Park and Storage at 3769 Parks School House Road.

That one, park manager Daniel Escobar stated, did not get put out until 3:18 a.m.

"It blew up," Escobar stated. "When it hit, we heard it. And I live over there at the office. It lit up the whole sky."

Escobar explained that a large "pop" woke him up. When he went outside to investigate, he saw the first RV completely engulfed in flames.

Thankfully, the RV's tenants were not home at the time.

"That lady just left for Walmart to go get some cigarettes," Escobar explained. "If she would have been there, she would have died."

At around that same time, resident Marcus Escamilla woke up next door to a wall of fire burning outside of his RV.

"I smelt the smoke," he recalled. "I was laying down in bed, so I went and looked out the window, saw that one was already on fire."

Marcus went to his next-door neighbor's and banged on their door to wake them up. When he managed to get them out, the fire spread to his neighbor's RV – and then to Marcus'.

"All those RV's are parked right next to one another," Jake explained. "Because of the intense heat burning up, it caused the other two to catch on fire. It was just a matter of minutes."

One of the residents pulled Marcus' RV away from the other two RV's in an attempt to save it, but it was too late. Marcus' RV was already consumed in flames, with the smoke so thick that it even slightly damaged the other RV's near it.

By 3:20 a.m., all three RV's were reported as a total loss.

"They were down to the tires," Escamilla expressed. "They were completely demolished."

Escamilla explained that ESD 6 responded to the call because anything south of Parks Schoolhouse Road is in their area of coverage, while anything north is in Waxahachie's. Escamilla stated they called Waxahachie Fire requesting for assistance, but they were preoccupied with their own structure fire at Morning Star Lane.

"It takes our entire personnel to operate a structure fire," Potter stated. "All of our people were tied up. Everybody we had was being used."

Escamilla stated that ESD 6 contacted the Ennis and Forreston Fire Departments to assist with the emergency in their stead. But since those departments are volunteer firefighters, assistant fire marshal David Bull stated they took longer to respond rather than on-duty firefighters.

"It took them a long time to get here," Marcus explained. "Too long. If they would have got here sooner, I wouldn't have lost my motorhome."

Marcus said the American Red Cross has purchased a hotel room for him and his family to reside in for a few days. But after that, Marcus said he's going to make living arrangements with his family – and figure out what his next step is going to be recovering from this disaster.

"I don't have nothing," Marcus expressed. "We just bought shoes, clothes, a new TV. My tools I use to do side jobs, home repairs, stuff like that. Everything I owned was in there. It's all gone."

To learn how you can help the victims of these fires, call the park at 972-816-9361.