Fierce Fire rips through Ft. Stockton Funeral Home

by Michael Stafford

NewsWest 9

A Ft. Stockton family is devastated after a fierce fire rips through their funeral home leaving behind nothing but charred remains.

Thankfully, no one was hurt during the four hour blaze, and the resilient family is already planning to rebuild despite a number of bad accidents in that building over the years.

A lightning strike around one-thirty Monday afternoon is to blame for the massive blaze.

Elvia Sanchez was the lone employee who witnessed it all as the fierce lightning strike crashed right into the building.

"I was scared, but glad I was the only one in the building.  I heard a loud pop and I sat back down, and I started smelling smoke," says Sanchez.

What firefighters didn't realize was that this 30 year old building has three separate roofs, and officials say that's mainly why it took so long to battle it.

Fire Chief Melvin Thomas told us, "There are three roofs in there, the old roof, a second old roof, and then the metal roof on it.  And there's no way of getting in there to it."

It took just about the entire fire department to extinguish the blaze. 30 of the 32 firefighters were on hand taking turns with those heavy hoses, but their courageous efforts to save the building were perhaps in vain.

Insurance adjusters have already ruled it a total loss.

Talk about a stroke of bad luck.  The fire chief told NewsWest 9, this same building sustained heavy fire and smoke damage in a fire about 20 years ago.  The owners tell NewsWest 9 that this funeral home flooded just about five years ago, and they repaired it, and to top things off, Monday's fire finally destroyed it.

One of the owners Carol Hampton says they'll try to rebuild once they get past the initial shock of their loss.

"It's really overwhelming.  It's nothing you ever expect or plan for or anything like that."  Are you planning to rebuild?  "I imagine so.  I talked to Steve a few hours ago, and he's still in a state of shock," Hampton said.

Firefighters tell NewsWest 9 this is the worst blaze they've seen in recent memory in Fort Stockton, but a building can always be rebuilt, they're just thankful everyone walked away alive.