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'This is where I grew up': Kleberg County family loses home following winter cold front

While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the family believes a heater may have shorted out a wire in the attic.

RICARDO, Texas — It was a tragic Friday morning for a family in Kleberg County as they woke up to flames inside of their home during the coldest morning of the year.

Thankfully, the family of four was able to get out in time. The home, on the other hand, was a total loss.

Martha and Mark Diamond of Ricardo, Texas, witnessed their home catching fire. They rushed to get their three-year-old son and wheelchair bound mother out of the house.

The home is owned by Mari Salazar. Salazar said she was worried about her sister, who lives there, and was relieved to learn the family was able to safely evacuate.

"I didn't know if my mom was still in the house," Salazar said. "I didn't know if my nephew was still in the house. I just booked it straight here, to see my whole life just burned down. This is where I grew up." 

While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the family believes a heater may have shorted out a wire in the attic.

"My wife, well, when she woke me up, we lost power to my son's room last night. I went to try to reset the breakers last night," Mark said. "They didn't come back on, so I said, 'Well, I'll deal with this in the morning.' Then I went back to bed." 

Kleberg County Volunteer Fire Department Chief Leo Jauregui said that while the use of heaters in cold weather is understandable, he advises those who use them to keep them away from any flammable items.

"With a sudden chill snap, everybody's got to stay warm, so I understand the use of some space heaters," Jauregui said. "But if they've got to use them, all I've got to say is be sure they're away from any kind of flammable material and be safe and always monitor them."

The family said their neighbors and friends have already reached out to help in any way they can. Martha added that they don't want to move away from the home their father built.

"We grew up here and my son grew up here," Martha said. "It's hard when I have him telling me in the car, 'I'm never going to see this house again.' I'm trying to be strong for him. I'm trying to be strong for him but that is hard."

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