Disabled vet loses home in fire

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Updated: 1/03 5:54 pm
RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- A disabled veteran is now without a home after a fire destroyed his house early Friday morning. News 4 caught up with him as he prepares to rebuild what was loss.

Army veteran James Morris learned about the fire that engulfed his home like many viewers did: on the news.

"I turned the TV on, and saw a great big ball of fire. What used to be my house," Morris said. "I'm still kind of numb over the situation."

Morris was not home at the time, because he has been in and out of the Veteran's Adminstration hospital to treat a recurring ulcer.  He is a C4-5 quadriplegic and uses a wheelchair to get around.

"I broke my neck, the fourth vertebrae down, riding snowmobiles."

While he's still in the hospital, Morris will have to find a new home and caretaker, which isn't an easy task. "I'd need the bathroom modified, so I can roll into a shower. And a ramp to get in and out of the house."

Fire investigators have yet to pinpoint the source of the fire, which started inside. The call came from passersby on the freeway, which added to the response time.

"Without a clear address, the first companies had to estimate where it might be," said Batallion Chief Dick Nachtsheim. "It took a little bit longer to get here than it normally would."

Nachtsheim says everything in the house is destroyed, and the house itself most likely a complete loss.  Firefighters went into defense mode to prevent the fire from spreading to other homes, a silver lining in Morris's eyes.

"When things like this happen, usually fire spreads, house to house. I'm just thankful that my neighbors are okay."

The Red Cross has been notified of Morris's need for help, and they will be able to offer emergency housing, food and clothing once he is discharged from the hospital. Any donations made to Red Cross Disaster Relief will be used to helped Morris when he needs it.
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