Dallas fire chaplain's house catches on fire before retirement

A fire sparked by an electrical short damaged the home of a Dallas Fire Department chaplain.

Willie Range spends his life serving others while also supporting his elderly parents and his disabled wife. But now, the former firefighter is going to need a little help himself.

It was a role reversal for Range on Tuesday morning. The former Dallas firefighter of 21 years was asleep in his Kessler Park home at 6 a.m. when he heard a pop.

"And then after the pop, the lights started flickering,” he recalled. “I knew we were in trouble."

A neighbor driving by saw flames shooting out the roof and laid on the horn. Range's wife called 911. Next thing he knew, firefighters were telling him to get back as they helped his elderly parents, ages 86 and 83, out of the home.

Range’s parents both have dementia and moved in a month ago. His wife is disabled from a car crash. And if that isn't enough to handle, he’ll be retiring on December 27.

“It's a strange time to have a fire at my house the week that I'm leaving,” he said.

Range’s house isn't a total loss, but it's not liveable for his wife and his parents. They all made it out okay and are staying in a hotel.

“We've had about six people say we can move in with them immediately,” Range said. “One lady went to work today and left us her keys.”

Fellow firefighter and neighbors visited Range to check in on him.

"I now know what it feels like to have been a chaplain because this is the way I try to make other people feel,” he said. “I feel like Sally Fields when she won that Oscar award and she said, 'They really like me!'"              

Range says it does matter what you do to help people. He's been on the giving end for years and is now overcome to be receiving.

"It's a wonderful life,” he said. “And they've made me feel that way this week."

A YouCaring account has been set up to help Range.

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