Fire causes massive damage to west Houston home

The family inside the burning home managed to escape without any injuries.

January 18, 2011 10:08:20 AM PST
A Houston mother and her son are safe after escaping from the fire that destroyed their home early this morning. The fire broke out around 5am at their home off Bunker Hill and Gage. At one point, the flames could be seen from miles away.

The family says it will rebuild the house and they are relieved that everyone got out alive. Univesity of Houston student Edward Yip, 19, and his mother, Ying Zhou, watched this morning as firefighters tried to save their $1.5 million home, which sits on the Houston side of the border with the Village of Bunker Hill. They built the home in 1998 and have lost it, along with everything inside.

The family has insurance, but they say they lost priceless artwork and artifacts collected during many trips to China, along with sentimental items like photos, which can never be replaced.

The mother and son say they heard something that sounded like an explosion, then saw fire and smoke in their vents. They ran out of the house, called 911, and within three minutes, they say Houston firefighters arrived. But by the time the hoses started pouring water onto the fire, the family knew the fire was too big to save the structure.

Firefighters pulled two alarms, going into defensive mode because the interior was too dangerous to stay inside. The fast-moving fire devoured the very large home. It took more than two hours to put it out. The family says the loud noises may have saved their lives, since they were both awakened even before their fire alarm went off.

"It was like a crackling and then just several loud booms afterwards," said the homeowner's son. "And then you know something's wrong because at first you thought it was just maybe a tree, but then when you hear the booms echo through your house, you know that it was the house that had something happen to it."

Firefighters haven't said what started the fire. Arson is investigating the cause, but say it may be electrical.