Religious candle sparks house fire

September 21, 2012 3:40:33 PM PDT
A family safely escaped their burning home, but it may have been caused by a shrine to the Virgin Mary.

The fire broke out at a home on Robbie at Micheaux, north of downtown.

The Ferrand family is very religious, and the family's faith is something that is front and center to their lives. The front yard shrine to the Virgin Mary only complements another one that was the centerpiece of a bedroom.

Ever since Juana Maria Ferrand was little, her grandmother burned spiritual candles.

"She always put it next to her Bible, but always blew it out before we went to sleep. So we've always had candles inside the house and it's kind of a shock that the fire started because of a candle," she said.

It was just after 6:30am Friday when a candlelit shrine to the Virgin Mary began to burn out of control at the family's home. Ferrand's mother rushed to alert the family.

"She wakes me up, screaming at me and telling me to get off the bed and get out the house," Ferrand said.

What made the situation even more panic-stricken is her father needs oxygen and needed help to get out.

"Because of his breathing problems and stuff like that, it was the only thing we were really worried about," Ferrand said.

Her mother, father, uncle and the family pets all escaped. They'll now rethink how to express gratitude to their faith.

"Anytime you burn candles, especially around the clock, you should have a dish especially made for candles. They sell them at candle shops," said Jay Evans with the Houston Fire Department.

The Houston Fire Department says about 30 firefighters responded to the fire and cut a hole in the attic as they battled the fire, which was quickly extinguished. The fire severely damaged several rooms and left heavy smoke damage throughout the home. It's a setback that will require faith to push forward.

"She is a very religious person and I do believe that everything happens for a reason," Ferrand said.

The American Red Cross and Veteran's Affairs Office were contacted to assist the family.

HFD adds the family did have working smoke detectors. The agency urges residents to use caution when using candles: always have a working smoke detector, never leave a candle burning, keep candles away from household items that can catch fire and place them on a secure piece of furniture away from children and pets.

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