CLYDE – A recent fire here did more than heavily damage a house and its contents – it also destroyed supplies and products for a nonprofit that takes veterans on hunting and fishing trips.
U.S. Army veterans Heather and Chris English and their 6-year-old daughter currently are living in a hotel after an Oct. 20 fire that started in the washing machine spread to other parts of the residence. Heather and daughter, as well as her mother, safely evacuated the house, which is located just outside of town, Chris English said.
The home of Heather of Chris English was a "total loss" after a fire on Oct. 20. The fire also destroyed the supplies for the nonprofit Texas Hunters for Heroes-West Texas Chapter.
He was away on a monthly hunting trip with veterans for the nonprofit Texas Hunters for Heroes-West Texas Chapter, which he has operated for three years.
"We're making it. We're going to be fine. It's just pretty devastating actually. We're not going to be able to help the veterans like I want to for the next couple of months, but we'll live," Chris said Thursday.
The couple also has two sons in college. The house has been in the family for 10 years.
Between the fire, smoke and water damage, the house is "totaled," Chris said. His wife's and mother-in-law's vehicles also were destroyed, as was a motorcycle parked in the garage.
"Our house was a total loss. They're going to have to rebuild it," Chris English said.
Individuals and businesses in the community are helping the family get back on its feet with the rebuilding of the house, replacing of the wife's vehicle and other needs, he said. He also recently met with an insurance adjuster.
"This community has been fantastic," English said.
Also destroyed in the fire were the nonprofit's hunting and fishing supplies stored in the garage, as well as T-shirts, hats and other products the couple sold to raise money for the nonprofit.
Three vehicles were damaged in a fire at the home of Heather and Chris English near Clyde.
Through Texas Hunters for Heroes-West Texas Chapter, English guides five to 10 veterans monthly on a hunting or fishing trip. The program is designed to show veterans respect, honor, compassion and love as they reintegrate into civilian life, according to its website.
The meat is donated to other groups that feed the homeless, he said.
"I'm used to being on the end of helping others and giving to others," English said. "It's been very humbling to be on the receiving end of it."
The hunting and fishing trips go on, with board members taking a handful of veterans on a deer hunting trip this weekend, he said.
He also is host of a post-traumatic stress disorder support group for veterans that meets Thursday evenings at the Clyde Chamber of Commerce office
Two days after the fire, the stress of dealing with the fire's aftermath was compounded when English learned that a solder who served under him had committed suicide. Preventing veterans suicides is why he continues to host the support group and is looking to quickly rebuild the nonprofit's supplies.
It is all part of his commitment to "do anything to help our veterans," he said.
A GoFundMe page with a goal of $250,000 was created Thursday to help the family.
By Laura Gutschke
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