Abilene woman saves disabled roommate from devastating house fire

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ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Four Abilene residents are left with very little after a fire rendered their home a total loss Monday morning.

John Gonzales in he and his wife’s room where the fire started.

It was around 6:00 when the fire broke out in the home on the 1200 block of Shelton Street. The fire began from a faulty wire in an AC window unit in the back of the house. No one was injured, but the home and its contents are considered a total loss.

“What can we do? It’s like crying ain’t gonna solve anything but it’s like that’s all you’ve got you know?” Said resident Toni Murillo.

Only two of the four residents were home at the time. Housemates Stephanie Richardson and Ramon Villarreal were sleeping, and Richardson says she awoke to find flames towering over her bed.

“I smelled something smoking and I woke up. The back room where me and my husband was staying at was all lit up in flames” Richardson said.

Melted rotary phone outside Ramon Villarreal’s room

Richardson says she immediately got up and ran to Villarreal’s room to make sure he could make it out. Villarreal has a physical disability, and though Richardson has rheumatoid arthritis herself, she helped walk him to the front lawn.

Her husband John Gonzales, and the owner of the home Toni Murillo had already left for work, only to receive word of the fire moments after arriving.

Gonzales says his wife was on the front lawn, petrified by the fire that was quickly making its way from their bedroom to the rest of the home. Since he saw no flames or smoke from the front, Gonzales tried to enter the side door.

“I didn’t see any flames so I thought it was a small fire. But when I opened the door there was so much pressure it threw me against that fence” Gonzales says.

Murillo works 12 hours a day as a CNA at Silver Spring Nursing home. She says upon arriving home she saw nothing but smoke and fire trucks. The home belonged to her brother-in-law, and she had been living there for three years. Now she says she’s just concerned about how long it will take to rebuild and how they will pay for it.

“Hopefully something will happen. ill get help and everything. It’s just sad when you go to work and come back and you have nothing” Murillo said

(Left to right) Stephanie, Toni, and John sit outside their former home.

Hours after the fire crews left, two employees from a nearby convenience store came bearing clothes and shoes for the residents who now have nothing but the clothes on their backs. Murillo says they are grateful for that, and even more grateful that everyone made it out alive.

The Red Cross will be putting them in hotel rooms for the next two nights. After that, some will stay with family and others say they’ll be camped outside the house until a better situation arises.

Gonzales works in construction, and says the road to clean up and rebuild will be long. They are asking now for any volunteers that would be willing to help in the process.

They are also accepting donations. To contribute or help out call or text Toni Murillo at 325-305-3439.

One of the least touched areas of the home still received enough heat to melt this picture

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