Baytown family grieves father killed in Christmas Eve fire


by Malini Basu / KHOU 11 News

Posted on December 25, 2013 at 11:16 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 25 at 11:20 PM

HOUSTON—A Baytown family is grieving after their loved one died in a house fire.

Robert Vargas Sr., 47, died in a fire that started around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday morning in the 530 block of East Defee Avenue.

“They said my daddy was upstairs. He was sleeping when the fire started, he tried to run. It was so hot. He couldn’t see. They said he hit a wall. I think he tried to jump out of a window. There was no window there,” said Robert Vargas, the victim’s son.

Family members think an electrical heater may have sparked the fire.

”The fire started right where I would’ve been. I know I could’ve got us out,” said Vargas’ son.

He said his father was known as “Bullet” because of his straight forward work ethics. He was a well known scaffold builder.

”He was my best friend. Me and him were closer than almost me and my wife,” said Vargas’ son.

The victim raised his three children and his wife’s three children and grandchildren.

”That’s all he ever did. He never had a chance to take care of himself,” said Vargas’ son.

Seeing this was especially hard for Baytown firefighter Paul Hoffart, who was dispatched to the fire, only to learn it was his in-laws’ house.

As he mourned with his family, he was also working to help replace the presents that burned in the fire. Facebook friends reached out and donated gifts.

”A few swords, football signed by the Texans cheerleaders,” said Devon Smith, their cousin.

In addition to the loss, Vargas’ son said he’s struggling with the guilt that comes with not being able to do enough.

”I’m so sorry I wasn’t here. I’m so sorry I wasn’t here. I’m sorry. I hope you’re not mad at me,” he said.

If you would like to help the family, you can contact them at