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Great grandmother survives 2-story jump from burning home, but loses almost everything

The seven residents of the home were forced to jump from a second floor window to escape the flames.
The seven residents of the home were forced to jump from a second floor window to escape the flames.(Temple Fire)
Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 7:18 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 15, 2020 at 11:54 AM CDT
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - Veola Williams, 73, was injured on Oct. 2 when she and six other family members had to jump from her two-story home to escape a fire burning inside.

All seven were sent to the hospital with injuries from the fall including Veola who suffered fractures in her back and ankle.

“Any other day my mom would have been here by herself so I thank god that those people were here and every single one of them got out safely,” daughter, Tonya Williams said.

Veola, who’s a great grandmother, was the oldest person in the house when the fire started, but was the last to escape.

“She wouldn’t leave until she made sure everyone else was out,” Tonya said.

Once the whole family was out, she went back to get her purse before leaving too, although her daughter says it only had about $30 inside.

The fire broke out just after 6 a.m. on Oct. 2 in the house in the 1300 block of East Avenue E.

Flames and heavy smoke were coming from the roof when the first crews arrived.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The fire destroyed almost everything in her home, but among the things salvaged so far have been a bible belonging to Veola’s mother, and an old sewing machine.

“Whatever I can find in that pile I’m willing to dig through and find for her,” Tonya said as she rummaged through the debris Wednesday nearly two weeks after the fire.

Veola was a nurse in Central Texas for more than 50 years.

She was born and reared in Temple, and remembers being classmates with former NFL player Joe Greene.

Tonya says she spends her free time visiting local food pantries, picking up food to bring to people who can’t physically make it to the pantry.

But now it’s her mom who needs help, Tonya says.

When her home insurance recently expired, the house was deemed uninsurable until shingles were replaced, which Veola couldn’t afford on her fixed income.

So in addition to losing everything and still needing multiple medical procedures, she’s receiving little help.

“Financially we need some help and I don’t know which way to turn other than to the community,” Tonya said.

The family has started a GoFundMe account.

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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