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Family recovering after Thursday fire

By: Sherrie Williams
An Iowa Park man saved his daughter’s life after her mother noticed smoke from what she thought was a grass fire in the area of their daughter’s home.

Denny Boland was able to wake his sleeping daughter, Taler Evans, just minutes before the ceiling and roof collapsed in the home she shared with her husband Sam and their two children, ages six and three, on Harley Court.

Like most school days, Kim Boland picked her six-year-old granddaughter up at Kidwell Elementary Thursday afternoon while Taler slept, since she works nights as a nurse at United Regional.

However, unlike some days, Kim went straight home after picking the six-year-old up instead of running errands as she does from time to time. The route “straight home” takes Kim to West Highway, Johnson Road and then to her home on Karen Lane.

As Kim and her granddaughter made their way back to her home she glanced down Harley Court, where her daughter lives, and saw what she thought was smoke possibly from a grass fire.

The home is at the end of the street so Kim was not able to tell if the smoke was coming from her daughter’s property or a neighbors. But she did know it unnerved her enough that as soon as she arrived home she told her husband she noticed smoke in the area of Taler’s house and he needed to go check on her.

Boland left right away, planning to check on Taler’s property before going to get his hair cut.

However, as soon as he approached the four-way stop at Johnson Road and West Highway, a look across the field to the south gave him a view of the back of his daughter’s home and smoke was now coming from the eaves.

Boland said his mind raced as he rushed to his daughter’s home.

As he jumped from his vehicle and ran to the home he knew his daughter was asleep inside, he recalled seeing shrubs and grass burning.

“I knew when I started beating on the door if she didn’t answer soon I would have to find a way to bust in the house. I knew if she didn’t answer the smoke had got to her,” a calm but emotional Boland said.

Meanwhile Taler was sound asleep when someone beating on the front door of her home woke her.

“I normally don’t answer when someone comes to my door while I am sleeping. But, the knocking sounded urgent and was persistent. I grabbed my robe and went to my daughter’s room where I could see who was knocking on the door,” said Taler. “Then I heard a man yelling and realized it was my Dad. I recall hearing a beeping and a whirling sound as I was going to the door, but it wasn’t until my Dad told me the house was on fire that I realized the beeping was the smoke alarm going off.”

When Boland told Taler her home was on fire she walked out of the home in her robe, she didn’t even have her glasses and she said she sees very little without them. She remembered one of the family’s three dogs was in a crate inside the home.

Boland entered the burning house and rescued the family’s pet.

As Boland was making his way to his daughter’s front door, others in the area began to notice the smoke and offer help.

It was approximately 3:21 Thursday when the Iowa Park dispatcher received the first of multiple 911 calls in reference to the house fire, a time that the traffic is heaviest in Iowa Park with the dismissal of school.

According to Iowa Park Fire Chief Randy Fulbright, he and another fire fighter responded to the station to get the fire engine while a third firefighter responded to the burning home from his home near-by.

“Traffic was heavy with school just letting out and as we approached Magnolia Street I saw a bus stopped letting children off at the day care. All I could do was stop and wait for them babies to get off the bus,” said Fulbright. “No way could or would I have passed that bus and chance a child run around the bus to wave at the fire truck. When the last child stepped off the bus, the driver immediately pulled the stop signs in and pulled the bus over. I knew Cpt. Moulton was on his way to the home as well as the police officers so I knew if there was someone in the burning house, they would get them out.”

Though the busy traffic with school just letting out and the school bus dropping off children may have created a very slight delay for the fire engine, Boland and Kim said the perfect timing is what saved her from injury or worse.

“If the timing had not been exactly perfect, school getting out, my Mom picking up my daughter, her going straight home because sometimes she doesn’t, had she not seen the smoke and had my Dad go check it out and he went straight to my house,” said Taler, as tears slid down her cheek. I probably wouldn’t have gotten out unharmed.” It was no more than 10 minutes before the roof caved in.

It was absolutely God’s will I got out safe.”

Boland said Taler is normally a sound sleeper and he feels he is lucky he was able to wake her by pounding on the door.

“I was just praying I could get her to answer the door,” said Boland.

Reflecting back on that day Taler said her Dad is her hero.

“Number one he is my hero. As hard as it has been going through all this, losing everything. I think how hard it would be on my family to go through all this if I wasn’t here. Like I said, the perfect timing was God’s will, there is no other explanation for the time line of the events,” said Taler.

“I am not a hero and wasn’t trying to be a hero, I was trying to save my daughter,” Boland said.

Taler said her Mom felt really bad that she didn’t go check the smoke. However, Taler is thankful she did not.

“If she had of my six-year-old child would have been there and seen everything. She would have seen our home burn,” said Taler.

“It really turned out for the best,” the two said.

According to Boland when the firefighters arrived there still was no smoke inside the home, but smoke was pouring from the eaves.

Firefihgters went inside the home to battle the blaze, but minutes later Chief Fulbright called the men out.

“I was on the truck pumping and the fire vented it’s self through the roof. I called the men out and shortly the roof caved into the house,” said Fulbright.

Despite most everything being burned throughout the house, including Taler’s car which was parked in the garage there were some things untouched by the fire.

“Amazingly, the bed she was sleeping in was not burned. The sheets and comforter did not have a burn mark on them,” Boland said.

A few pieces of linen in a closet were also not damaged and some of Taler’s work clothes that were in the clothes dryer.

“The firemen did find my I Pad and it still worked, my I Phone, it was not working, and some photos that had water damage, but the neighbors laid them out to dry. Also, inside the coffee table still sitting unburned in the living room there were some undamaged pictures. I have a few engagement photos and photos of my kids that were a nice surprise. The firemen also found my glasses. They are an old pair, but they help” she said.

Friends and neighbors also took a few clothes and blankets and washed them and were able to get the smoke smell out.

Saturday several friends and family went through the charred remains of the home looking for anything salvageable. Two precious pieces of jewelry were found, a second wedding set of Taler’s and her husband’s grandfather’s college ring.

Meanwhile, Taler’s husband had received a phone call that their home was burning. He was working in Amarillo when he received the call.

He had a long trip before him to get back to his family.

“We talked with him often and encouraged him to slow down and drive safe. We didn’t need another incident,” said Taler.

Also, Taler’s brother, Garrett Boland was making his way to his sister and family as quickly as he could from Fort Worth.

“He had a test Friday morning, but he still came and brought the kids their favorite treats and me a bouquet of flowers,” said Taler.

Wichita County arson investigators secured the home late Thursday evening and continued their investigation into the blaze Friday.

According to Wichita County Deputy Lt. Ray Schultz the fire was ruled accidental. He said they were able to determine the fire started in the ceiling.

It was also determined that the fire melting the eves of the home which was dropping on the shrubs against the home is what started the grass fire.

While en route to the fire, Fulbright requested mutual aide from Wichita Falls Fire Department and Electra Volunteer Fire Department and both arrived within a short time.

Also, nine other Iowa Park firefighters arrived at the scene.

Fulright said Iowa Park city employees arrived within minutes of the fire department and helped get fire hoses hooked up to the fire hydrant.

“They were amazing, the fire department and law enforcement and the wives of the fire fighters,” said Taler. “The wives were there with water for them. I was just amazed.”

“Everyone was amazing. One of my neighbors let me put some of her clothes on. Other neighbors offered to help anyway they could. People we don’t even know showed up and offered to help us anyway they could. People started showing up with clothes and other items. By the end of the evening we had stuff stacked by the curb that had been given to us,” said Taler.

She and her Dad echoed at how amazed and blessed they felt to be a part of Iowa Park, such a caring community.

“I want everyone to know how wonderful police, fire, this whole community, our church, other churches, have been with help and donations. We never could have imagined the outpouring of love we have received and it continues. We have even had people say, “when everyone else stops, let us know and we will help,” said Taler.

Taler said the generosity extends to some outside of Iowa Park. Since her contacts and newest pair of glasses were lost in the fire, her Dad drove her to her eye doctor in Burkburnett. The doctor did not charge Taler for the eye exam, or contacts and paid for her pair of glasses.

Taler said at this time the family has plenty of clothes.

One Iowa Park business donated the use of a storage unit. However, it is not large enough to store furniture or appliances. They hope to be able to get a roll-off type storage unit set-up at the burned house to store donated household items in. They are in need of plastic tubs to store clothes and other small items in.

An account has been set-up at Cryovac Credit Union (Secured Advantage Credit Union) in Denny’s name to benefit the Evans family.

“Again we cannot stress enough how blessed we are,” said Boland and Taler.