Balch Springs

A year later, family finds new start after devastating grassfire blaze in Balch Springs

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Tuesday marks one year since the Balch Springs fire that destroyed and damaged dozens of homes in one neighborhood. Last year, authorities said a grass field ignited after a mower blade sparked against a sharp object. The damages were estimated at around six million dollars.

“It’s, like, we live day by day and thank God for what we do have,” Rachel Ryan said.

Ryan, her husband Mitch, and their children were not home when the fire started. Their two dogs were rescued by a friend.

“We've stopped by a couple of times, and it's still hard to let go,” Mitch said.

Mitch and Rachel said this past year was a blessing in disguise.

“We were pretty close to calling it quits for us, and this fire actually brought us a lot closer,” Rachel said.

Days after the blaze, Mitch spotted his wife's wedding gown.

"Our bedroom closet was upstairs in the back of the house," Rachel said.

"There was a big hole in the wall. She could see her box it was in, and it looked just fine," Mitch said. "We had already been inside. We couldn't get through any of the rooms because everything would come down inside the rooms. And so, I actually just bulldozed through our bedroom door, our bathroom door, and the closet door to get in and get it out."

The dress and a sign that read "family" were the only items unscathed by the flames, a testament to their love for each other.

"It's definitely a blessing from God," Mitch said. "It's still very emotional for me."

The couple has worked to overcome the devastating blaze and rebuild their life. The support and donations that followed, helped establish a new foundation for the Ryans.

“Because of fire, we were actually able to buy our first house,” Rachel said.

However, they worry for their neighbors who continue to deal with insurance claims and search for accountability.

“I don't think it'll ever be over for anybody who, in my opinion, lives on the street having to deal with that property back there,” Rachel said.

A vacant lot of grass fire stretches behind the neighborhood along the 4200 block of South Beltline Road. Firefighters said last year’s grassfire started in that lot which neighbors say once again appears to be unkept.

“Unless something actually happens with that property, it's going to just go downhill,” Rachel said.

It is unclear if the owners of the lot have made any efforts for fire prevention in the last year.

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