Elderly woman injured in Champions-area house fire

February 19, 2012 7:33:40 PM PST
An elderly woman was recovering in the hospital from severe burns Sunday after a fire broke out at her home in northwest Harris County, and the recent heavy rainfall may be partly to blame for the chain of events that sparked the fire.

It happened at a home in the 12600 block of Indian Wells Drive near Champion Forest and F.M. 1960.

"I heard a noise. It sounded like something blowing up," neighbor Randolph Thomas said. "But then we heard some cracking. Then windows started cracking on the right side of the house there."

The fire that sent 88-year old Laura Bogner to the hospital started outside, but looking at her house, you'd never know.

"The tree fell on the power line, but the power line did collapse down onto the garage of her residence," Lt. Chad Shaw with the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office said.

Investigators say the tree was uprooted from the rain-soaked ground. It toppled onto a fence and into power lines, which draped over several houses.

"[Power lines were] slung across my garage, the garage next door and the garage on the end," neighbor Joe Mason said.

The live wires shorted out most circuits in Bogner's house.

"There is def signs inside that the smoke was very, very thick and banking down the side of the house," Shaw said. "If she stood up at all, she probably would have been overcome by the smoke."

The grandmother was in her bedroom, opposite the flames. Neighbors rushed to help as firefighters arrived.

"We went over to try to see if we could get the lady out," Mason said. "By that time, it had flashed."

The victim was rescued and airlifted to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where she remained Sunday night in the burn unit.

For now, friends and neighbors pray for her recovery and count their own blessings.

"Fortunately, we missed the bullet this time," Mason said.

Officials warn everyone that because of the drought and recent rain, dead and brittle trees can cause a lot of damage, especially if it gets windy. Try to get rid of them so they don't collapse on your homes or power lines.