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Family loses home during winter fire

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    Examiner photo by Ana Cosino: A fireplace warming a local family of five during extreme temperatures may have been the cause of a fire that consumed their home in flames late Monday night, Feb. 15. The Woodard family was displaced but remain in great spirits behind support from the community.
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A local family of five, lost their home at 1007 Leake Street in Navasota Monday, Feb. 15, during a late-night fire and the fireplace may be the source.

Navasota Fire Chief Jason Katkoski said the department was dispatched at 10:32 p.m. to possible smoke in the Leake Street residence. Katkoski said when Engine 85 arrived on scene there was heavy smoke and fire and the front of the home was collapsed.

Firefighters launched a defensive attack using handlines and master streams. Katkoski stated it took approximately 2 hours to completely extinguish the fire because the effort was hampered by extreme cold temperatures. College Station and South Brazos County Fire Departments assisted with extinguishing the fire. St. Joseph EMS was also on scene in case medical assistance was needed.

Katkoski said no injuries were sustained and the cause of the fire is under investigation, however it is believed to have started around the fireplace and chimney.

Chris Woodard stated the family was without electricity for several hours and like many times before used their fireplace as a source of heat. He purchased firewood from a local store and burned it in the fireplace, however something about the burn this time was amiss which left him cautious to the point that he refused to go to sleep with the rest of his family.

He said he wanted to ensure the fire in the fireplace had completely died down because there was a little more smoke this time, the sound was different and at one point he even touched the walls because it sounded as though there were flames within the walls.

He stayed awake as his wife Maria and their three children, Chris “CJ,” age 13, Ariana, 9, and Martin, 8, went to sleep in the living room. At approximately 10:30 p.m. Chris noticed flames coming from the ceiling. He quickly had his family exit the home and call 911. He ran back inside to see if he could extinguish the flames with a fire extinguisher. An officer arrived and advised him to exit the residence and he did so with the roof collapsing quickly after.

In a matter of minutes, the home was completely engulfed in flames and the home was a total loss. Chris and Maria are both NISD graduates and their children attend NISD. They were able to stay with Chris’ mom, but other than the clothes they were wearing and the blankets they were using to keep warm everything else was lost in the fire.

Maria posted on the family Facebook Page, “Our lives definitely changed last night. We lost our home to a horrible fire. If that doesn’t bring you to your knees, I don’t know what would. But God and my Mommy were there with us and guided us all out to safety and that’s all that matters. It all happened so fast. We literally made it to the end of our driveway before it engulfed in flames. Sitting there looking at our home, where so many special memories were made was heart-wrenching and had me in tears, but my babies consoled me and told me not to be sad about everything lost. They would miss their belongings but all that mattered to them was that we were all together and had each other.

We would like to thank first and foremost God, the Navasota and College Station Fire Departments, Navasota PD, The Examiner, our Families, NISD, Texas A&M Physicians, friends, and all the community both local and surrounding that have showed us so much love and support both emotional and financial. It truly brought tears to our eyes. With God’s help we will get through this and hope to rebuild soon! I lost my Mommy in 2019 and now this but God will not abandon us! Please keep praying for us all and again thank you to each and every one of you. We love you all.”

If you would like to assist the family with any household needs, clothing or monetary donations, items may be dropped off at 907 Houston Street in Navasota. A Go Fund me account is set up for the family,

The families clothing sizes include:

Chris “CJ” (13) — Shirts (M), Jeans (10-12), Shoes (4.5-5)

Ariana (9) — Shirts (Large), Jeans (10), Shoes (3)

Martin (8) — Shirts (Small), Jeans (8), Shoes (1)

Maria — Shirts (Large), Jeans (4-5), Shoes (5)

Chris — Shirts (2XL), Jeans (40-42), Shoes (9.5)

Katkoski said as a reminder, especially with the extreme cold temperatures, people should only burn a clean, natural hardwood such as oak. He also recommends limiting the use of the large starter logs.