Family recovering after fire guts historic home

GRAPEVINE -- A couple whose century-old home was gutted by fire Jan. 11 is reeling from the loss of their home and a cherished pet, but are taking solace in offers for help from friends, co-workers and strangers.

Brenda Vazis and William "Brad" Frank fled the fire that engulfed their home by scrambling down from the second floor. Frank used a column and Vazis used a ladder he put up for her.

"We're staying at a motel," Vazis said. "I'm trying to come back to normal."

According to historians, the house in the 500 block of Wildwood Lane was once the home of Zebulon Jenkins, a well-known merchant and pioneer.

"It's very sad," said Sallie Andrews of the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We all know that house very well."

Frank said his mother bought the house, which was in "horrible" shape, in 1982.

"I spent five years restoring it," said Frank, a carpenter and construction worker. "I put everything I had into it."

Frank said his mother stayed in the home until she died in 2009 and he lived there from 1984 to 1988. He returned to live in the home in 2010.

The couple said their German shepherd, Eleven, woke them up barking about 4 a.m. to warn them of the fire that had engulfed the home.

After the ordeal was over, the homeowners discovered Eleven had died in the fire, which occurred on Jan. 11. The dog was named Eleven because they found her on New Year's Day 2011.

"Eleven saved our lives and now she's gone," Frank said. "There are a lot of things we can't replace: my mother's antiques, family portraits, vacation photos and Eleven."

He said Eleven was one of the smartest dogs he had known, and would open the door for him when he came home.

"She could open any door that wasn't dead bolted," he said.

Deputy Fire Chief Randie Frisinger, who is also the fire marshal, said the cause of the fire is under investigation but that "it appears to be accidental." He said the blaze apparently started downstairs.

Damage was estimated at $500,000 to the building and $25,000 to its contents.

Vazis said people are helping her to get back on her feet.

"I appreciate everything people are doing for me," she said.

Marty Sabota, 817-431-2231