Deadly fire in East Texas sparked by firework shells -, GA News Weather & Sports

Deadly fire in East Texas sparked by firework shells


Fourth of July celebrations ended tragically for a Bowie County family Thursday night. Liberty Eylau firefighters say they believe fireworks are to blame for a house fire that killed a man and injured his wife.

Firefighters say the fire broke out just before 12 a.m. at a home on the 100 block of Douglas Street. 

"I told them to get their phone and call 9-1-1," says Braydon Anderson, a 7-year-old witness to the fire.

Braydon was first to notice his neighbor's house burning.

"I was hearing fireworks and I saw orange out the window, and I looked out the window and I saw a fire."

Steven Lawrence, 60, was not able to make it out of the burning home. His wife, Katherine, made it to the front yard but could not get over a 6-foot fence. The heat from the blaze prevented neighbors from helping.

Kim Cheramie was one of the neighbors who tried to help.

"I feel like my face is burnt because of the intensity of the heat from the house."

Bowie County Sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene and pulled Katherine over the fence. She was taken to a Texarkana hospital for treatment of injuries she suffered during the fire.

The deputies tried to go through a window to rescue Lawrence but was not successful. The couple's son told investigators that, in an effort to clean the property, he had put used fireworks in a trash can, and somehow that can ignited.

Liberty Eylau Fire Chief David Weslehoff calls that a good idea but added, "Always keep a waterhose around when you are discharging fireworks. And always when you get through with your rubbish and debris, soak it in a bucket of water or pour water over it before putting it in trash can."

Three vehicles and a storage building was also damaged, but neighbors say the loss of life is what they will remember.

"He was a real good neighbor," Judy Anderson says.

This was one of six fires in Bowie County related to fireworks during the holiday.

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