SUBSCRIBE NOW

Enjoy all your local news and sports for less than 6¢ per day.

Subscribe Now

GRANITE SHOALS — Charity Parker wrapped up the Christmas shopping almost three months before Dec. 25, but then a fire turned her family’s hoped-for holiday into smoke and ashes.

The blaze destroyed the two-bedroom structure, claimed her husband’s tools, consumed a fully stocked pantry and torched all the family’s Christmas presents. Their niece, whose mother is in hospice, was supposed to move in so the family could help take care of her.

“I had it all done. All the kids’ gifts were stored over there,” Parker said, pointing to the gutted shell of a building adjacent to the home where she, husband Chris Parker and their four children live.

The damaged building also held a freezer.

“Our Christmas tree and decorations were there, too. And all the kids’ first Christmas ornaments,” she said.

Christmas promised to be good for the Parkers this year. But during the night of Oct. 22, a blaze destroyed the adjacent building.

“It was horrible,” Charity Parker said, standing among the ruins. “You can still smell it.”

The Parkers and their sons — ages 7 months, 3 years, 8 years and 10 years — were asleep in the main house. A neighbor behind them raced around the dwelling knocking on all the windows trying to wake the family.

When the Parkers emerged from their home in the 1500 block of Valley High and saw the fire ripping through the next-door building, all the stunned family could do was watch.

“I must have been in shock,” Charity Parker said. “You never expect it to happen to you.”

The first Granite Shoals Fire Department volunteer arrived in a brush truck. Parker said he didn’t attack the blaze itself but started protecting their living quarters by dousing the family’s home, which was only eight feet from the burning structure.

“He probably saved our home,” she said. “He just kept spraying back and forth (along the home’s roof).”

She pointed to the home’s eaves where the fire’s heat melted the paint.

“It was close,” Parker said.

The family had been renovating the additional structure because Parker’s niece planned to move in with them. Parker said her sister is currently in hospice care and it would only be a matter of time before the niece relocated.

“Now, we don’t know where she’ll stay,” Parker said.

The fire knocked out a fuse box, leaving the Parkers without water and electricity for almost two weeks.

The fire gutted the structure. The family had recently stocked the freezer in anticipation of Chris Parker being laid off from his seasonal job. However, they are hoping he can find employment laying tile this winter.

“But all his tools were in there,” Charity Parker said. She pointed to some twisted pieces of metal and other items that used to be her husband’s tools.

The fire also destroyed two motorcycles — her husband’s and her 10-year-old son’s dirt bike. In another corner, the Parkers had stored an air conditioning unit, a new bathroom vanity and other supplies for remodeling the building and their own home.

“It’s all gone,” Charity Parker said. “Of course it wasn’t insured.”

With no insurance on the building, the Parkers are left to clean it up themselves. From there, Parker said they don’t know what they’ll do.

“We’ll probably have to knock it down,” she said.

As she walked through the ruins, Parker picked up some burned cans of food and a couple of charred Christmas ornaments.

The fire also consumed several mementos left by her mother, who died when Parker was 15, she said.

“But we can replace this — well, most of it,” she said. “The good news is we’re all right.”

The cause of the fire is undetermined, she added.

There’s been an account set up at First National Bank in the Marble Falls Walmart, 2700 U.S. 281, to help the Parkers. The account is under the name of Parker’s sister Deidra Heffner.