By Alexandria Randolph
Four law enforcement officers ran into a burning house early Tuesday morning to save a Lampasas couple and their dog, officials said.
Lampasas Fire Marshal Ronnie Withers said first responders were dispatched to 408 E. Fifth St. after a neighbor made an emergency call at 1 a.m.
Sheriff Jess Ramos said a neighbor had woken early and was looking outside to determine if the roads had frozen when he saw his neighbor’s house in flames. The residence at 408 E. Fifth St. is a single-story wooden structure in a notable shade of turquoise.
Lampasas County Sheriff’s Office deputies Justin Wilson, Calvin Wilcox and Rhett Levingston were at the sheriff’s office taking their dinner break and working on reports when they, too, were notified of the house fire. The blaze was directly behind the southeast corner of the sheriff’s office, authorities said.
“They immediately exited the side door and observed the house engulfed in fire,” Ramos said. “They took off running across the field.”
When deputies arrived, so did Lampasas police officer Garrett Bradley.
Ramos said the four officers entered the house to find the residents and their dog.
“They went inside and woke them up and got them out while the house was burning,” Ramos said.
The officers located Julie Lane, 78, sleeping on a chair in the living room and her husband, 74-year-old Orville Gene Lane, in a bedroom near the rear of the residence, Ramos said in a news release.
“They were able to assist Mrs. Lane onto a wheelchair and get her out of the residence,” as well as get Orville Lane out of the house, the sheriff said.
The officers also recovered the pet Chihuahua from the residence.
Time was a serious matter, Ramos said, because “smoke can kill you faster than fire can.”
Withers said the first Lampasas Fire Department units arrived on scene at 1:02 a.m., and “some were delayed because of ice on windshields.”
Temperatures in Lampasas were in the 20s in the early-morning hours, and the temperature dropped to 23 degrees at 7:15 a.m., the National Weather Service reported.
LFD and Kempner Volunteer Fire Department units fought the fire and kept the blaze from spreading to nearby homes. No other structures were damaged, Withers said.
Acadian Ambulance Service also responded to the scene.
The cause of the fire was found to be a heating lamp on the exterior of the home, Withers said.
“The occupant’s family member had some pets they were trying to keep warm with a heating lamp,” he said. “[The lamp] fell into some hay and caught the house on fire, and [the fire] went up into the attic.
“Everybody loves pets, but one thing you don’t do is put heating lamps in their pens right next to your house,” Withers said, adding that animals seeking comfort can jostle a heating lamp and knock it over, causing fires.
The couple and their pet dog were displaced from their residence by the fire, but they were unharmed, Withers said. He added that a neighbor took them in until temporary housing could be found, and the American Red Cross was contacted to assist them.
“We put them up in a hotel with the [Lampasas] Ministerial Alliance to get them out of the weather,” Withers said.
Authorities deemed the house a “total loss” due to fire damage, he added.
Withers encourages all residents to maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
“In the house… we didn’t see any signs of smoke detectors,” he said. “Check your batteries in your smoke detectors. They do save lives.”
Withers added that LFD has a program to offer free smoke detectors to those who can’t otherwise afford them.
“We really don’t mind people coming by [the station] and getting one,” he said. “We always try to keep them on hand.”