Tears flowed and hugs were traded Monday (June 20) as residents at the Top of the Hill RV Resort in Comfort, Texas, counted their blessings, or calculated their losses, after a swift-moving fire forced them out Sunday.
The San Antonio Express News reported that damage estimates topped $500,000 at the 15-acre site west of Boerne where the fickle fire hopscotched among the 70 trailers and motorhomes. It destroyed seven and then gutted the clubhouse, laundry room, pavilion and bathhouses.
“It’s just very strange,” resort manager Eddie Cuello said while surveying the losses, which also included five vehicles. “Some things got hit and others didn’t.”
The blaze started beside Interstate 10, closing it at times Sunday afternoon, and threatened structures on both sides of the highway before it was subdued from the air and by firefighters on foot.
Finding her trailer untouched, Peggy Denson helped less lucky neighbors sort through the seared remnants of their rolling homes.
“The reality of it is just now setting in,” said Denson, 52, a Nederland resident who moved into the park last week. “It’s emotionally draining.”
Cuello and residents heaped praise on the roughly 85 firefighters who battled the 140-acre blaze, and on a mystery motorist who warned park residents of the approaching threat.
Odell McElroy was working the front desk when she said the stranger wheeled in and told her to call 911, saying, “There’s a fire on the highway down below you.”
McElroy made the call, and then rushed to rouse unsuspecting residents nearest the fire.
“The fire came within a foot of my home all the way around. They dumped water on it from a helicopter and saved it,” she said.
Boerne Fire Chief Doug Meckel, who said the fire’s cause is under investigation, said there are still a few hot spots. “We’ll probably remain on the location for the rest of the day.”
Resort residents whose homes were intact eagerly awaited the restoration of water and electric service.
Others, like Cullen and Sue Skelton, faced the prospect of starting over from scratch.
The former Universal City residents, who became full-time RVers last summer, lost their 50-foot travel trailer and a 2004 Impala, said their son, Andy Skelton, 40.
“Everything they own was in the RV,” he said of his parents. “We had to go to the Wal-Mart this morning for underwear and socks for them.”
Sifting through the charred debris Monday, they recovered Sue’s wedding ring and a Masonic ring belonging to Cullen.
“I told my parents, ‘Your lives just got a lot more simple,’” said Andy Skelton. They’ll stay with him in San Antonio until resuming their life on the road.
“They’re not going to stop,” said Andy. “They made reservations today for the winter months at Top the Hill RV Resort.”