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96-year-old WWII veteran loses home after fire linked to historic freeze

Bob and Anecita Martin had to rebuild their home after Hurricanes Ike and Harvey, only to have a fire after the recent freeze destroy almost everything they own.

HOUSTON — World War II veteran Bob Martin, 96, and his wife Anecita, 81, have survived more than their share of devastating natural disasters.

Hurricane Ike's powerful winds heavily damaged their home in 2008, so they had to pull up their bootstraps and rebuild.

In 2017, they were rescued when floodwater from Hurricane Harvey filled the home. 

“We went out of here in a rowboat,” Bob said.

The couple ended up sleeping on the floor of a local church and had to start over again.

Four years later, it was flames – not floodwaters – that destroyed the home and just about everything inside.

It started when a pipe broke during the historic freeze in February. The Martins couldn’t find a plumber, so a friend offered to fix it last weekend.

They say he used a propane torch to repair the pipe, leading to a fire that filled the house with smoke.

Credit: Scott Engle
A Humble-area WWII veteran's home was destroyed when a friend fixing a broken pipe accidentally started a fire.

“I was in the bedroom and I heard a pop,” Anecita said. “I come out to call fire department, but I was so nervous, I couldn’t dial my phone.”

The Atascocita Volunteer Fire Department arrived within minutes, but flames were already shooting through the roof.

This week, friends and relatives helped search through the rubble for belongings that could be saved.

Bob and Anecita are living in a motel while they wait for the insurance company.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the couple discovered Wednesday that their beloved German shepherd had gotten out of their fenced backyard.

They live in a subdivision off FM 1960 and Townsend and were worried sick the dog might wander onto a busy road.

Family, friends and strangers helped search for him and the Martins finally got some good news Thursday. 

Harvey, the 100-pound dog, was found and has been reunited with them.

A gofundme.com account has been set up to help the Martins recover. 

Credit: Scott Engle
96-year-old WWII veteran Bob Martin was reunited with his dog, Harvey, who disappeared after a fire destroyed their Houston-area home.

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