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Blaze destroys home

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

A home in the 200 block of Old Medina Highway was completely destroyed by fire the night of Wednesday, June 5, according to Bandera County Fire Marshal John Stith.

In an interview on Monday, June 10, Stith said the blaze was reported to emergency dispatch at 11:51 pm, when homeowner Larry Ertzner awoke to find a wall in back of his bed in flames. "In the course of attempting to extinguish the fire, the homeowner sustained burns to his hands," Stith said. EMS personnel treated Ertzner at the scene.

Fire fighting units arrived on the scene at 12:05 pm, at which time volunteer firefighters found the back of the wooden residence about 25 percent engulfed in flames. "The rest of the house was rapidly engulfed," Stith said. "The home and 100 percent of the contents were completely destroyed."

Ertzner underscored Stith's assessment of the situation. "Everything went so fast - and that's what everyone needs to know," he said. "If something like this happens to you, get out of the building as fast as possible. And, always have a working fire extinguisher close at hand." He reiterated, however, "But, if a fire is clearly out of control, just get out of the house and don't try to take anything with you."

Happily, Ertzner's dog escaped unharmed from the conflagration. Ertzner said he called for Scout even as he was reporting the fire to 9-1-1.
In addition to a vehicle, outbuildings located behind the residence, sustained smoke and heat damage. Most of the buildings' contents were undamaged.

Responding volunteer firefighting units included Bandera, Lakeshore, Pipe Creek and Medina. According to Stith, firefighting efforts were somewhat hampered by reports that a large amount of ammunition was stored in the house.

"The presence of ammunition doesn't necessarily pose a significant hazard to firefighters, but they must adjust their operation tactics accordingly," he explained. Firefighters left the scene at 3:16 am.

Stith added that the investigation to determine the cause of the fire is centering on the outlet and connecting wiring behind the homeowner's bed.

Ertzner emphasized that he has suffered no ill effects from the unfortunate incident. He also had high praise for first responders. "I want to highly commend the volunteer firefighters and EMT medical personnel, along with Fire Marshal John Stith and Deputy Joey Hernandez, for all their assistance. It's wonderful knowing we have caring people like this in our community in times of emergencies. I can't say enough about their actions."

Pictured: Photo by John Stith
A frame home on Old Medina Highway was completely destroyed by fire in the early morning hours of Wednesday, June 5.