Tragedy in Texas sparks support for wounded warrior

By MARIVEL RESENDIZ | The Kerrville (Texas) Daily Times | Published: February 28, 2014

HARPER, Texas — The Harper community has pulled together for a family that continues to stay strong through multiple obstacles, including losing their home in a fire.

“It got so hot, the fire department couldn’t pinpoint if it was a loose connection or faulty wiring,” Amanda Bennett said. “The kitchen island burned to the point where it was a pile of rubble.”

A home fire has been minor compared to what the family has been through. Tim Bennett was injured in combat when fighting in Iraq in 2007. A military vehicle he was driving hit an improvised explosive device. Tim Bennett lived through the explosion despite having 70 percent of his body burned and losing his left arm.

The family moved to Harper after the incident so Bennett could live in close proximity to The Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and the Kerrville VA Hospital for ongoing medical support.

“The fire and the smoke was pretty hard on my husband, but luckily we weren’t there, and we’re all doing OK,” Amanda Bennett said. “Possessions can be replaced.”

Feb. 19 had been a normal day for the Bennett family, filled with usual work, school and sports. Then, while driving down the street from the family’s home, Amanda Bennett received a call saying her home was on fire.

“We pulled up and the firefighters were there working on it,” Bennett said. “It was all gone.”

Ninety-five percent of the house burned down, and whatever wasn’t burned was affected by smoke and heat. The family of five lost their home and all its content due to a possible electrical shortage in the kitchen.

Amanda and Tim Bennett have three children, 9-year-old T.J., 12-year-old Savannah and 17-year-old Brittany. The Bennetts, who are originally from Utah, don’t have family in the area. They are living in an RV on the property until they have enough funds to rebuild a home.

“In a small town, everybody just wants to pitch in and help,” Amanda Bennett said. “It’s been overwhelming, and we’re definitely grateful to be in the area.”

Businesses and community members have come together to host a benefit for the family. The small town of Harper will make March 8 a day of festivities that they hope will provide some financial help to the family, said Lori Hollender, co-owner of Headwaters Saloon.

“This family has been through so much, but they just keep on going” Hollender said.

On the day of the fundraiser, Headwaters Saloon, 229 South Ranch Road, will host the benefit. A barbecue and fish fry will begin at 4 p.m., followed by a live auction from 5:30 to 6 p.m. The Wolf Sisters will lead entertainment at 9 p.m.

Admission is by donation.

“Tim was there in Iraq and fought for us, now we can help him fight to rebuild,” Hollender said.

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