A heat lamp used to keep dogs warm on a frigid night apparently shorted out and sparked a fire Saturday morning that destroyed a white frame house at 908 N.E. Barnard St.

The home was occupied by Shannon Downs, granddaughter of Babe Keith and niece of Bubba Keith, who live next door. The two-bedroom house was destroyed, but Downs and her dogs escaped safely.

The Keiths don't have any insurance on the home. Downs, who is disabled and cannot work, had to be relocated to a local motel.

“I'm sure it's going to be a total loss,” Keith said of the burned structure.

The family said they would like to thank the Somervell County Fire Department for “their courageous effort to save our home. They exhibited great determination in very difficult and dangerous conditions. We truly appreciate everything they did for us.”

The American Red Cross responded to help get Downs into a motel and the United Methodist Church Thrift Store also opened to help provide clothes.

When the fire broke out Saturday around 7:30 a.m., Keith said all of the garden hoses around the house were frozen. He grabbed his fire extinguisher to try to put out the fire, but the blaze was too hot.

He said it took firefighters about two hours, working in the severe cold, to put out the fire.

Getting Downs a place to stay is the first priority, Keith said.

If you'd like to help the family, you can bring donations to the Reporter. We'll see that the family gets them until they can open an account.