'I was scared for them:' Homeowner recounts moment she, her kids escape burning home

By Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli - Digital News Editor, Vincent Crivelli - Reporter

CYPRESS-FAIRBANKS, Texas - While most people woke up to thunder, one homeowner in northwest Harris County woke up to an explosion and flames.

The fire broke out around 4 a.m. Thursday in the Cypress-Fairbanks area on Churchill Way Drive and Crooks Way Court, authorities said.

According to firefighters, the fire sparked after strong winds knocked over a tree fell, which brought power lines down on the roof of the home.

Homeowner Beatriz Velez said she heard something explode and she panicked.

“As a mother, I have three kids,” said Velez, who is also six months pregnant. “That’s when we saw the fire, the smoke.”

The flames ripped through the roof and the fire spread into the attic, then into the kitchen, according to Velez, who screamed while trying to get her kids out of the house alive.

“They were scared, of course, but they managed to get out. We managed to get out on time,” said Velez.

Firefighters fought the flames as the family, with Velez holding her children, stood by watching their home burn.

“I just looked at their faces, they were crying. I was scared for them, they were scared for me. We were both comforting each other,” said Velez.

Firefighters were able to put out the flames within an hour, but not without some challenges.

"The only trouble they had fighting the fire was because of the power lines down and the question of them being charged," said Daniel Arizpe, with the Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department. "CenterPoint is on the scene to handle that issue, but the first arriving crews did have issues with power lines."

In the daylight you can see what’s left of the chimney, the roof around it collapsed, but the Velez family is staying strong.

“(I) can’t thank God enough that we are OK. It really is just material things. I just care that my kids are OK," said Velez. "I do not care what’s inside there. The memories, I can keep them going with my kids because they are still alive."

Thousands of people west of the metro area experienced power outages as the storm passed through, including the Steeple Chase neighborhood surrounding the downed power lines.

"It looks like there is no power in the neighborhood now, and the area surrounding the neighborhood doesn't have power," Arizpe said.

The Velez family is staying with relatives as it starts the insurance claim process.No one was injured in the fire. 

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