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story.lead_photo.caption As Texarkana, Texas, firefighters look on, water streams from an elevated hose onto the remains of a house that burned early Tuesday morning in the 2000 block of Olive Street. All eight residents, including six children, escaped unharmed. The house next door caught fire first, around 3:30 a.m., and that fire claimed the life of an elderly man. (Staff photo by Karl Richter)

TEXARKANA, Texas — The double house fire that ended one man's life early Tuesday morning was so destructive that its cause likely will never be known.

Fire Marshal Chris Black said his investigation of the blaze was limited by the total destruction of the elderly man's house in the 2000 block of Olive Street, which "burned to the ground" around 3 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. Tuesday.

A house next door also caught fire, and its residents, including six children, escaped uninjured. Though still partially standing, that house is also a total loss, Black said, citing a conversation with an insurance investigator.

When police officers arrived at the scene, followed by firefighters about two minutes later, the front of the man's house was engulfed in flame, Black said. Both police and firefighters entered the house from the rear to attempt a rescue but were only able to go 20 to 30 feet in before the intense fire turned them back.

Branda Hope, who lived next door, said her son was awake at about 3 a.m. when he noticed light from the flames. He woke everyone in the house, including Hope's grandmother, Janet Hope, and they escaped.

An online fundraiser via the GoFundMe website has been organized to help the Hope family, and it had collected more than $3,200 toward a $5,000 goal as of Thursday afternoon. To donate, visit gofundme.com/f/family-of-8-lost-everything-to-fire.

The man's death was the first fire fatality in the city since June 2019, when an electrical fire killed a 22-month-old boy as he lay in his crib in a house in the 3000 block of Meadows Drive.

Black stressed the importance of every home having working, properly installed smoke detectors.

Texarkana, Texas, Fire Department will provide a free home inspection and smoke detector installation on request. For more information, call 903-798-3994 or visit the TTFD website at ci.texarkana.tx.us/137/Fire-Department and follow the FAQs link.

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