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Massive fire claims Portland family's home of 30 years

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Posted at 12:46 AM, Dec 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-11 19:03:32-05

PORTLAND, Texas — A Portland family stayed with relatives Tuesday night after its home of more than three decades caught fire.

Two of the home’s three occupants were in the house in the 100 block of Grace Drive at the time, but both were able to get out of the house unharmed. The third occupant was at a relative’s school program.

“Everyone is safe,” said Portland Fire Chief Jeff Morris.

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It took firefighters from Portland and Corpus Christi more than two hours to put out a fire in the 100 block of Grace Drive in Portland.

The fire took between two-and-a-half to three hours to extinguish, Morris said, partly because accessing the seat of the fire was made more difficult by high winds ushered in by Tuesday morning’s cold front.

"So the winds were posing a little bit of a challenge with getting the fire under control, and then with the fire location – (it) made it a little bit challenging to get to it,” he said.

Morris said the fire had spread significantly before firefighters arrived, partially collapsing the roof over the garage, leaving a path of obstacles between personnel and the fire’s hotspots.

“(It was a) process of working through the rubble and getting to where the hotspots were and being able to pull some of the debris out of the way so we could get to them,” Morris said.

The call came in between 6:30 and 7 p.m., Morris said, and at approximately 7:15 p.m., a second alarm was sounded. More Portland firefighters were called in to help battle one of
the biggest fires Morris said his department has seen in a while.

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Photo: CCFD and Portland FD battle a fire in Portland.

When Corpus Christi firefighters arrived around 7:30 p.m. the home was still on fire.

The departments finally were able to put it out at around 10 p.m.

The house reportedly belongs to Bruce and Cherry Collier, their brother-in-law Don Mayo told KRIS Communications. Bruce Collier’s disabled brother, Tommy, also lives in the house.

Mayo said the Bruce and Cheri Collier have lived in the house for “30-plus years.”

“The oldest boy is over 40, so, they’ve been here since he was a little one,” he said.

Mayo said that although the Colliers don’t know exactly what happened, they assume the cause was electrical, and that it started in the kitchen and then spread to the garage.

Morris said the fire’s origin is still unknown, but that his department hopes to have the cause of the total loss determined within the next few days.

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Firefighters were called in from Corpus Christi to help battle a house fire in Portland.

“It'll take some time, but we'll look into it and see if we can figure out what's going on,” he said.

Mayo also said the family is distraught because it lost its two Boxer-mix dogs.

“They were brother and sister,” Mayo said. “They were really upset about that.”

KRIS 6 News photographer Dennis Kingsbury and reporter Catherine McGinty contributed to this story.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story identified the female homeowner as Cherry Collier. Her name is Cheri Collier.