After realizing the futility of her fight against a fire in her garage, a Guadalupe County mother tried to rush back in the house with one thing on her mind: saving her children.
Confronted with the possibility of her children being trapped inside the house, Brianna Pettinger said she freaked out. But her fears were quickly eased when she realized her 12-year-old son Jayden had taken the initiative.
“As I run around the corner to get to the front door to get my kids, my 12-year-old son has already pulled my 9-month-old [and] my 4-year-old … out of the house,” Pettinger said. “Thank God he did.”
Jayden is her hero, Pettinger said. His fast action and calm demeanor under pressure possibly meant the difference between life and death for his siblings, 4-year-old brother Kaelyx and their 9-month-old sister Aiyani, she said.
The property owner’s grandson happened by and helped her save the family’s three American Bully dogs Kane, Titan and Mamba, Pettinger said.
Once everyone was safe, the family stood on the lawn as firefighters lost the fight against the blaze and the house burned to the ground.
While the family lost most all of their possessions, there is a bright side.
“It could be a lot worse; somebody could be dead,” Pettinger said on Friday. “I’m glad we’re just replacing material things and not planning a funeral.”
The fire started about 9:10 a.m. Tuesday at a house on farmland in the 1700 block of Link Road. Firefighters from three departments fought the blaze and their efforts were hampered by strong winds and lack of nearby fire hydrants.
The official cause of the fire is undetermined, Guadalupe County Assistant Fire Marshal Bryce Houlton said.
The morning of the fire, Pettinger said she was on a call when she looked out a kitchen window that led into the garage and saw flames and smoke. She rushed into the garage with a hose and tried herself to put out the fire.
The flames and smoke became too much so she thought to open the garage door, which made everything worse and sent flames running into the house. That’s when she gave up the fight and went to save her children, eventually finding them safe, Pettinger said.
Where there once stood a single-story farmhouse with attached garage on Friday was a pile of charred rubble and a burned out 2004 Chevy Tahoe. Pettinger, her fiancé Deon Williams and the children lived together in the rented home.
Williams, an employee with the city of Seguin’s Public Works Department, was at work when he learned from a friend that the house was ablaze. Initially, he checked the in-house cameras and tried to call Pettinger for information.
“I called her a couple times. Finally, she answered,” he said. “She told me.”
He told his supervisor and rushed home. Noticing smoke wafting into the air as he hurried closer, frantic thoughts filled his mind, Williams said. He pulled up with one thought on his mind.
“Where are my kids at,” Williams remembered. “I saw my fiancée out by the road. I asked where my kids were?”
Pettinger told him the children were in a police vehicle safe. Williams retrieved the kids and the family gathered around his work vehicle as the house burned. They were safe and together.
“All I can say is I’m really thankful my son was there,” Pettinger said. “He kept his composure better than I did.”
People from the Seguin community have reached out to help the family cope with the loss of their home and possessions, Pettinger said. Donations have included clothes for the family, a storage unit to accept more essentials, cash and more, she said.
A community member set up an online account to raise money to help the family. To donate to it, visit www.gofundme.com/f/deon-williams-family-fire-relief-fund . Seguin Storage on Kingsbury Street is accepting donated items during normal business hours if a donaor provides one of the family members’ names, Pettinger said.
“We’re going to be OK,” she said. “The amount of love and support we have received has blown us away. We will forever be grateful for the people who helped us during our time of need.”