Homes damaged in fire following work by AT&T contractor

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Homes damaged in fire following work by AT&T contractor. (KTRK)

The turkey and all the fixings were ready to go at the Skala home, but instead of a family gathering around the table they will reunite to help in the long clean-up process ahead after their home went up in flames Tuesday.

"My husband is a Marine and that is the remains of his dress blues freshly pressed for his whole life," said Joyce Skala as she showed Eyewitness News crews the scene. "That's it and then my wedding dress is melted right next to it."

On Friday morning, the fire marshal's office ruled it an accident, saying a contractor hired by AT&T was attempting to install fiber optic cable. Somehow they hit a CenterPoint energy line and a Comcast cable line at the same time.

"That sent a surge that came through and our house was the end of the line that took the brunt of it," said the couple. "It ignited our house."

Three other homes received some damage, but nothing like this.

"I lived there, that's my world. I'm a gardener, I cook, and I'm an artist," said Skala, who lost all of her paintings.

The scary part about it, Skala had just left the house not long before the fire erupted.

"I left at 12:15 p.m. and I got a call at 1 p.m. that my house was up 40 feet in flames and it was burned," she said.

Now that the Skalas and the neighborhood know how this happened, they want someone to take the blame.

"I'm not angry but I know it's not a natural disaster and it's not an act of God, so to me, somebody has to own that," they said.

Meantime, AT&T released the following statement:
"We are in contact with one of our contractors, who we understand is working with the authorities on an investigation into what happened. Our understanding is the fire marshal is still investigating and has not determined the cause yet."

The family has a GoFundMe account if you would like to help.


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