BALLINGER - When Lisa Villapando went to work on Sunday, Jan. 7, she assumed it was like any other day, but she would soon find out, it was going to be one of the most trying days of her life.

BALLINGER - When Lisa Villapando went to work on Sunday, Jan. 7, she assumed it was like any other day, but she would soon find out, it was going to be one of the most trying days of her life.

Villapando and her family are now recovering from a fire that destroyed their home and belongings that day.

That day, she said she left early with her daughter, Faye Hernandez, 14, who helps her to care for a friend, her daughter stayed behind with the friend while Lisa went on to Beefmaster Steakhouse where she is an assistant manager. But just a few minutes after she arrived, a coworker came up and asked her to confirm her address.

“She said ‘I think your house is on fire,’” Lisa recalled. “I grabbed my keys and ran out the back door.”

Meanwhile, just a few minutes before, her 11-year-old son Abel Martinez was just waking up when he heard what he described as a “thunder noise.”

He went in to the living room and discovered the curtains and the couch on fire at the home at 1105 13th Street. He yelled that the living room was on fire banged on the door where Mark Arthur, his mother’s boyfriend, was sleeping and ran out the back door.

Mark would open the door to find nothing but black smoke filling up the hallway. He could not see, so he crawled out the window to safety.

Meanwhile Abel had run to a neighbor’s house and called 9-1-1.

Lisa drove up to find Mark and Abel outside in their pajama pants and no socks or shoes- they had narrowly escaped.

Fortunately, her other daughter 13-year-old Yuri Martinez, had spent the night with her aunt. The animals - a dog and a cat, also escaped safely. But nothing else did.

Lisa and her family lost everything, their home of nine years and almost all of their belongings.

Ballinger police were the first on the scene. Sgt. Chris Sargent said when he arrived, his job was just to make sure everyone was safe and that no one else was in the burning home.

“It was very traumatic,” he said.

Lisa said at one point she entertained the idea of trying to get her GMC Yukon out of the carport.

“But we realized it was on fire and it was too late,” Lisa explained.

Two units from the Ballinger Fire Department arrived on the scene at 9:42 a.m. The firefighters found most of the home on fire, and winds were whipping up the flames.

“The home was a complete loss,” Assistant Fire Chief Brent Allen said following the fire.

The family essentially were left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

The kids lost all of their Christmas gifts which included an X-Box, a camera, their school laptops, books, their glasses, tools and appliances and furniture.

“I had just gone grocery shopping,” Lisa remembered.

But as is the norm in Ballinger and Runnels County, the community stepped up immediately to take care of the family.

The schools held fundraisers for the family. Lisa’s boss Beefmaster’s owner Phil King, told the family not to worry about meals. Donnie Parsons of Parsons Heating and Air, reached out to the community immediately and began a donation drive. Clothes, toiletry items and funds started rolling in.

“We’re getting so many donations on clothes,” Lisa said.

Angela Gau, who lost her home almost a year ago to a fire, gave Lisa towels and other items.

“She knew what our immediate needs were,” Lisa said. “I’m so thankful.”

Another friend offered the family a house with some furniture, which they were moving in to Friday, Jan. 12.

Still another kind gentleman offered to give the family a vehicle.

The Ballinger Ministerial Alliance has also provided assistance. Max Pratt said they are waiting for the family to assess their needs and then the BMA will be at the ready. Pratt said the Salvation Army is also ready to help.

On Friday, the Shoppin’ Basket had her come in to shop for groceries.

Lisa had insurance on the home and last week she was just waiting to see what the outcome will be there.

But overall, thanks to a caring community Lisa and her family will survive.

“It’s overwhelming,” Lisa said. “Everyone has been so supportive and we are so grateful.”