Flames that consumed the garage of an Anderson County resident around noon Tuesday was brought to a halt just before it could overwhelm the house — thanks in part to a vigilant neighbor.
The property, located just outside of Palestine on Anderson County Road 358, belongs to John Angton Jr., who was not home at the time his garage went up in flames. His neighbor Jamie Copeland, however, who lives three houses down, was.
Copeland, 33, is a cousin of Angton's son JJ.
“I was the first one that saw it. I saw smoke coming out,” Copeland said. “I looked up under the roof, under the rafters, and saw smoke coming out a little bit. I ran back into the house and said, 'I think JJ's garage is on fire!'”
While someone called 911, Copeland did the only thing he could think to do — try to put out that fire.
First responders were on their way, which included the Palestine Fire Department and volunteer fire departments from Elmwood, Neches and Montalba.
Copeland ran around the house and straight into a problem — the water wasn't turned on.
Angton had turned the water off because of a leak in one of his hoses. In fact, that's why he was not at home — he had gone into town to purchase fittings.
“By the time we got the water turned on, it had started in the back,” Copeland said, referencing the garage.
He pointed to where a work bench had been, as well as a car, shelf, tools and recliner.
“When I first got here, the recliner was on fire; it had just started,” he said. “By the time we got to it, there were flames rolling out both garage doors. I couldn't even get to it.”
Copeland said he ran around the back of the garage and sprayed the house “what I could.”