Kendra Lyn, NBC 5 News
Whipping winds and a lack of hydrants near a home in unincorporated Ellis County made fighting an overnight fire difficult for firefighters from four agencies.
Whipping winds and a lack of water made putting out a fire at a Ellis County home on Friday morning a tougher battle than usual.
Crews didn't have access to fire hydrants within a half-mile of the home on Dixie Lane near Waxahachie, complicating the fight. Neighbors said their concern is how long it took firefighters to arrive.
The homeowner made it out safely, but he's lost everything. There's just a shell left of the brick house. A car parked in what used to be the garage is torched.
"It was a raging inferno within 15 minutes. The whole thing was engulfed," said neighbor Dixie Loving.
Loving woke up to her neighbor knocking on her door just after midnight. The home across the street was up in the flames. The man who lives there tells Loving that he'd been sleeping when the power went out.
"The circuit breaker must have tripped because of the fire. Then, there shouldn't be this glow. So, they left with what they had on, which wasn't much," said Loving.
The flames forced the homeowner out into the cold as strong winds fueled the fire.
Loving called 911.
"We were all standing around. There was nothing we could do, but wait," said Loving.
The rural neighborhood to the north of Waxahachie is covered by the Ellis County Emergency Services District 6 Volunteer Fire Department.
Waxahachie Fire Chief Ricky Boyd said that the city also responded to help, along with three other departments.
Loving believes it took about 45 minutes for crews to arrive.
"It was 45 minutes before. The sheriff got here 15 minutes before the fire department. Seems a little long to me. Maybe I don't understand how volunteer fire departments work," said Loving.
When crews pulled up, the nearest fire hydrant is two streets away. A county tanker had to bring in water.
The Waxahachie chief said response times are always a concern in and outside of the city, but limited water access is part of living in a rural area.
"It would have been better to break a window and put the hose inside. At least it was something. By the time help got here, it was gone," says Loving.
NBC 5 has put in an open records request with the county for fire crews exact response times.
The fire marshal said the fire started in the back porch area of the home and hopes to know exactly what sparked the fire by the end of the day on Friday.
The homeowner told neighbors he didn't have insurance.