Mom and son picking up pieces after house fire

HOUSTON This was not how Jim Rutledge and his mother Nina planned on spending Christmas Day.

"I had to borrow these shoes from the neighbor across the street," said Rutledge.

He's dressed in clothes from different neighbors after a rude awakening at 2:30am Friday morning.

Rutledge says the doorbell rang and he went downstairs.

"All I saw was red fire and flames," said Rutledge.

His 73-year-old mother was sleeping right through it.

"She did not wake up when the doorbell rang. On Christmas Day I would have had a dead mother," he said.

The homeowner's first reaction was to go out and grab the garden hose to put some water on the front door, but once he got to the faucet he found there was a problem.

"The hose still has the metal part, but the threaded part on the faucet is still on it. Someone had broken the hose so I couldn't put out the front door," Rutledge said.

Arson investigators say the fire is suspicious and they are looking into the possibility an accelerant was used at the front door.

"He's just wiped out our lives on Christmas Day. Hallelujah. Amen," Rutledge said.

He has sifted through what's left of the home that his mother has lived in for 37 years.

"All our pictures. We had pictures of generations ago," he said.

He managed to salvage a couple of things from under the tree.

"This is a present from my mom to me and I just got this from my daughter," he said.

Rutledge and his mother should have a house full of relatives this Christmas night.

"I spent all day yesterday cooking," Rutledge said.

Instead they feel empty just looking at the charred mess.

"At least we are alive. I tell you she wouldn't have woken up," Rutledge said.

The Westmont Neighborhood Association is in the process of installing surveillance cameras throughout the area. While it's too late for the Rutledge family, those cameras are expected to go online in a few weeks.

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