TAMINA, Texas - Looking at the blackened bricks, charred wood and scorched beams, it’s hard for Benjamin Hardin to process the rubble is all that remains of his cousin Bobby Johnson’s home, the house he helped build decades ago.
“I was a kid, so handing a bucket of nails or handing a board or chase this, chase that is what I did,” says Hardin.
He says he found out about the deadly fire when he came home from work Friday night and turned on the news.
“I recognized the home. I just couldn’t believe it,” Hardin says. “This is a tragedy. It’s a complete tragedy.”
He was one of dozens who stopped by the house Saturday to pay their respects to the three children who lost their lives inside and show support for the other family members still in the hospital.
The Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office had investigators out on scene for more than 12 hours on Friday, but haven’t yet revealed what started the deadly fire.
Tansy Luke works at Vogel Intermediate, where one of the victims, 13-year-old Terrance went to school.
“He was one of my lunch students,” she says, remembering that she just saw him on Thursday. “My heart is just broken. I’m here because I just had to come and see. It’s just unreal to me that you can see someone one day – especially a little kid, little babies. I’m a mom. I can’t even imagine the hurt and the sorrow.”
Terrance and his siblings, 6-year-old Kaila and 5-year-old Kyle, died in Friday morning’s fire.
Their 10-year-old brother Adrian was the only sibling to survive. “He’s a really nice kid,” says Quincy Jones, one of Adrian’s classmates. “I want to wish him the best and hope he makes it out.”
Stan Thergood, a bishop at Thergood Memorial Church of God in Christ in Willis, where Bobby Johnson is pastor, says he visited some of the family in the hospital on Friday night.
“I was led by the Holy Spirit to come and check on the family,” he says. “We was raised together.”
Thergood says right now the Johnson family’s faith is being tested. But they are looking for miracles, a ladder that had been propped up against the house.
“Pastor Johnson’s wife kept telling him, ‘You’ve got to move the ladder, you’ve got to move the ladder.’ He didn’t move the ladder. The ladder is what saved their lives,” says Thergood.
It couldn’t save three others, though, which is why Thergood says the surviving members of the Johnson family are leaning on the Lord right now.
“You keep the faith by trusting in God and really believing He’s in control,” he says.
Thergood says his church will have a service Sunday morning.
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