Fruitvale community comes together to help family after tragedy

VAN ZANDT COUNTY (KYTX) -- Three Van Zandt County siblings lost their home Tuesday morning. Now they face life without their parents.

It was quiet on County Road 1129 Tuesday morning. What would have been just another day had already turned into ashes--for a family about which no one seems to have a bad thing to say.

"I've known Wendy for several years," family friend Johnny Stone said. "But Brute, I knew him nearly all my life."

To understand the magnitude of this tragedy, you have to rewind exactly three months. That's the day Kenneth "Brute" Harris lost his battle with cancer.

"It's going to be hard on them this Christmas," Stone said. "That's for sure."

Just like everyone in Fruitvale, Stone knew after that it was up to Brute's wife Wendy to care for their three kids. Now Wendy is gone, after dying in a blaze fire investigators are blaming on a space heater.

Van Zandt County Fire Marshal Chuck Allen said Wendy's son hunter tried to save her from the burning house after he pulled his sister Presley to safety. Hunter told firefighters it was just too hot to go back in.

"he's a hero to his sister, and the family, knowing that he

 got his sister out," Stone said.

The kids at Fruitvale High School have already set the wheels in motion when it comes to trying to help the family. They've partnered up with the church across the street to take donations, hoping that they can make a difference in what happens next.

"We are one big family here," Fruitvale ISD Superintendent Jennifer Jones said. "And everybody does work together and pull together to help."
Jones said the students are having a hard time dealing with the mixed emotions involved in knowing their classmates are safe, but forced to deal with losing everything.
"They really need prayers right now," Jones said.

In this town those prayers will probably come from every direction as people pitch in to help.

"I want to get these kids on the Angel Tree, because they deserve Christmas," Stone said. "They've lost everything. I mean, as you can see here. They lost everything."

All three of the Harris children were at a hospital in Dallas with some of their extended family Tuesday. Presley was burned pretty badly but expected to make a full recovery.

Despite running back into that burning home to save people Hunter had only minor injuries.

One firefighter was injured during the fire. He was treated and released.

Neighbors told CBS 19 the children have quite a few family members around the area, so there's no worry about them having a roof over their heads.

They're also getting assistance from the Red Cross.


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