Fire destroys Cleveland home, kills dozens of cats and dogs

Fire swept through this Cleveland home on Monday, destroying everything a family owned and killing dozens of rescued animals.

A Cleveland family on Monday lost everything they own in a house fire that also killed dozens of animals that were being sheltered there. According to San Jacinto County Fire Marshal Jeff Williams, the fire is believed to have been started by a debris fire in the family’s backyard on Stephens Road off of FM 2025 just west of the Liberty-San Jacinto County line.

The homeowners, Cindy and Claiborn Harris, and their adult daughter, Alexis Allred, who also lives in the home, were away when the fire sparked up from a debris fire that they thought was put out. The Harrises were not insured for their home.

“The problem is with the humidity being so low right now and temperatures up during the day, it doesn’t take much to spark a grass fire. That happens quite frequently. They had burned debris the day before and somehow it spread into a grass fire that caught the house on fire. By the time firefighters got there, the garage of the home was fully involved and the fire was spreading through the attic. We had trouble getting it under control,” Williams said.

Cleveland Fire Department was the first fire agency on the scene. They called for support and Tarkington, East Montgomery, Bear Creek, Shepherd, Coldspring and Punkin-Evergreen VFDs all showed up to help.

Allred, who runs a 501(c)3 nonprofit called Poofer’s Place from the home, was sheltered 57 cats and five dogs at the time. Of those, only 27 cats and two dogs survived. As she now has no way to shelter them, the animals were sent to Copper’s Cat Commune in Spring and Texas Litter Control will assist by getting the surviving cats adopted into families.

Claiborn Harris is a disabled paraplegic and a U.S. Army veteran. His wife, Cindy, is disabled.

“My stepdad was at the Veterans Administration hospital at the time, otherwise he would likely be dead as he is a paraplegic and needs assistance,” Allred said.

All of his medical equipment, which includes a Hoyer lift, wheelchairs, medical beds, air mattress for the medical bed and other equipment was destroyed by the fire. Allred is hoping that the VA will help out by providing assistance.

As San Jacinto County is still suffering the effects of a drought, a burn ban has been ordered for the next seven days, Williams said.

“The burn bay was called as of today, Tuesday, for the next seven days until commissioners court can meet to extend it. I expect that we will see it extended,” Williams said.

A Go Fund Me account is being set up to help the Harris family. As soon as the account information is given to Bluebonnet News, an update will be posted.


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