LIVE OAK, Texas – Neighbors in a Live Oak neighborhood had a major scare Saturday afternoon after they thought their neighbor was trapped inside his burning home.
The fire broke out in the 1700 block of Leafy Hollow Street. When Live Oak fire crews arrived, they got the call that someone was trapped inside.
That was the fear of several neighbors, who have lived near Randall Hudson, the homeowner, for several years.
“I was sitting out getting some sun, and I heard an explosion,” said Dorothy Velazquez, Hudson’s neighbor of 25 years. “I looked over, and it was Randy’s house. It just blew. The smoke was so black.”
Dorothy Velazquez ran inside her home to tell Jose Velazquez, her husband. He, along with many neighbors, grabbed rocks and boards to break windows and the door to the home.
“In my mind, I was going to go inside, but I said no. It was too much,” Jose Velazquez said. “It was too hot. I was barefoot and the smoke was already to the ground. You couldn’t see anything but black, black, black.”
Fortunately, Hudson had a change in his normal routine right before the fire happened.
“He never leaves the house,” Dorothy Velazquez said. “He and his roommate are normally at the house, which is why we thought they were in there. I was hysterical. I thought there were burnt bodies in there. Just the thought of it makes you sick. And then to know it is somebody you know makes it even worse.”
“I am not sure what happened,” Hudson said. “I just know I went to visit my roommate, who is a disabled veteran, in the hospital. By the time we got to the hospital, I had a friend of mine call and said my house was burned almost to the ground. I don’t know what happened. I really don’t.”
Hudson said he moved into that house in 1981 when he was 21 years old.
“I paid it off 10 years after I moved in,” Hudson said. “I have fallen on some tough times. The insurance lapsed on it, and the taxes got backed up.”
Though his home is gone, Hudson said he was pleased to learn his cat was still alive.
“Her name is Charlie,” Hudson said. “She’s about 16 years old. Luckily, I left my patio door open so she was able to get out. I was really worried about her. She’s OK now, but I was really broken up about that.”
Hudson also said that the fire brought his younger brother back into his life.
“My brother and I haven’t seen each other in several years, and he showed up,” Hudson said. “He said he was going down the highway and saw smoke coming from the area where he knew I lived. He drove by just to see, and it was my house. God works in mysterious ways,because I think this will make our bond stronger.”
Hudson also added that he is extremely grateful for his neighbors.
“I heard that someone slashed their arm open trying to get in there to save me,” Hudson said. “I am so grateful for the people of Live Oak. It is so surreal right now, and it will sink in. I have really good neighbors. We all look after each other. These people are great.”
Hudson said he doesn’t know what his next step will be or if he will ever find a home, but he said for the time being, the American Red Cross has stepped in and provided him with some assistance.
“I am very thankful for them,” Hudson said. “I had no idea they would go out of their way like this. They gave me a little money so I can stay in a hotel tonight and some money for clothes and toiletries. It was crazy when she told me this was to buy some clothes, because I realized that all I have now are just the clothes on my back and my cat. I am just very thankful. I may be homeless, but I am still alive. Thank the Lord for that.”