Ashes, some still smoldering the next afternoon, set amid traces of the life that once filled the house on the northeast corner of Marshall and Sherman streets in Van Alstyne. Fire consumed the entire house Friday night.
Van Alstyne Fire Department Lt. Jeremy Powell said they were called to the fire at 9:40 p.m. Friday and when firefighters arrived, they found the house completely engulfed in flames.
“It appeared to be vacant,” Powell, who is continuing the investigation into cause and origin of the fire, said.
With help from Howe, Tom Bean, and Gunter fire departments, firefighters were able to call it extinguished at 11:02 p.m.
Dora White, lifetime Van Alstyne resident, said that she, her two sisters and for a while her cousin grew up in the house, which belonged to her mother, Mary Tate. She reminiscenced Monday about the times that the family returned for family visits, not caring that it was a small house. They just all wanted to be together, and in the place they loved, she said. One of the Tate daughters now lives directly east of the now destroyed home, and White and her husband, Dennis, live only a few blocks away.
Mrs. Tate passed away in 2007, White said. The house stood vacant for a while, but then the family decided it was time to tear it down. It was being demolished at the time it caught fire.
There are signs of that loving home still apparent at the scene, such as vases and knick-knacks broken and piled to the side; portions of a window air conditioner and the frame of a small oscillating fan stacked to another side; clothing still on coat hangers laying on the ground; and boards still covered with flower-patterned wall paper. The abundant foliage around the house suffered considerable fire and heat damage. But, firefighters were able to prevent the flames from causing damage to nearby homes.
The Van Alstyne F.D., which also provides the paramedics and ambulance services for the city and area, also had help from Sherman F.D., who sent one of its ambulances to the scene, “due to our EMS being on a prior call when we got this one,” Powell said.
Powell said that he expects the investigation into cause and origin to be completed by the end of the week.