Tuesday, April 2 2013, 02:12 PM CDT
Lumberton family tries to rebuild after house fire
JEFFERSON COUNTY - If you love breakfast any time, IHOP was the place for you today.
In honor of National Pancake Day, the restaurant offered a free short stack of pancakes to guests.
In return, IHOP asked that people leave a little something extra for Shriners Hospitals.
This is the eighth year IHOP has held National Pancake Day, which has raised more than $10 million for Shriners and other charities.
And while many people participated in the fundraiser, some families are reflecting on a personal connection with the hospital.
KFDM met with a family in Lumberton who lost everything in a house fire four days before Christmas.
When we got to the family's address today, the mom dad and daughter were outside looking at what used to be their home.
Even though they say they lost all of their material items, they're grateful to be alive and able to share this story.
"The living room, kitchen, and all was already one hundred percent engulfed in flames before we even woke up."
Burton Wales says it happened in a matter of minutes. His daughter's screams, flames and smoke, the fight to get everyone out.
"I really thought I was going to go out for a minute and just give up until I heard her screaming it's burning me and that's when I dove out the window and hit the ground. I couldn't just let them all die. That's my job."
A job Wales didn't take lightly.
He knocked out his bedroom window, pushed his wife through, then ran around the house to his daughter's bedroom.
He used her window AC unit to bust the glass, then climbed into the darkness.
"I couldn't see her because the black smoke was pouring out the room. I heard her screaming. I felt on the bed and grabbed her and started pulling back. I could feel her reaching for something, and I didn't know what it was. I wasn't going to slow down at the time, but it turns out being she was reaching for our dogs that we lost."
Three dogs, now buried just yards away from where the home once stood off Hawn Drive in Lumberton.
"I'm thankful every day for his courage."
Courage this wife and mother says saved her daughter's life.
A medical helicopter took 13-year-old Kendra to Shriners Hospital in Galveston.
The family spent a week and half there while medical experts treated the girls for soot in her lungs and burns to her arm and hand.
"They're the best hospital around. We never had to ask any questions, they were always informing of us of what was going on, what the next step was."
Parents who found comfort and healing. Now trying to stay positive and rebuild.
"The grief of the loss of everything sets in as well, and you just have to remind yourself to be thankful to have the ones you love and everything else is replaceable."
This fire was four days before Christmas which means they lost gifts bought to celebrate that holiday.
Burton Wales, the father, served in the army.
He says he lost his military awards and pictures of the men he served with. The family is now living in a camper trailer on their property.
How you can help the family: visit "Lumberton house fire project" Facebook page Fundraiser: Saturday, february 16th, noon, at Squeeze's on Voth Road in Beaumont. There will be BBQ, a raffle for a meat package, and an auction.