Bryan man working to recover after losing home in second fire in just over a year

Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 11:01 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - A Bryan man needs help after losing his home near Lake Bryan to a fire early Sunday morning.

It’s the second time in about a year Niles Loudenslager has had to face the recovery process after his shop on the very same property also burned down.

Loudenslager says he was helping a neighbor get her lights back on in her pickup truck when the fire started around 2 a.m.

“We could see a big glow over here and I thought, ‘Oh God,’” Loudenslager said. “I had left that little cat in the house, and when I got here, it was ablaze.”

Thankfully, a close friend, her daughter Harley, and all his pets were able to make it out in time. He says it was Harley who actually alerted everyone to get out of the house when the fire started, and even went back inside to rescue that little cat.

Harley Baker, 10, was inside the home with her mom when the fire started. Her mom and...
Harley Baker, 10, was inside the home with her mom when the fire started. Her mom and Loudenslager say she ran back into the home to save a small cat that was still inside.(KBTX)

“One minute you’re pretty much okay, the next minute you don’t have a pair of socks to change into, or a shirt, or a vehicle. Your keys just burn up in the house, so the cars won’t start now,” Loudenslager said.

He’s currently sleeping a friend’s truck, and the clothes on his back were donated to him by a neighbor.

“I tried to get a motel, but my driver’s license is gone. It’s things like that that you just don’t realize how much you depend on it every day until you don’t have it,” Loudenslager said. “The titles to my vehicles burnt up. The deed to the house and land burnt up. Clothes are burnt up. I can’t think of anything we do have.”

He lost virtually everything. Even his cell phone is gone.

“You get so used to being your own person. It’s hard to explain it,” Loudenslager said. “You get real used to being who you are and you can do what you want to. You run your own show. But when you’re like this, you’ve got nothing. You have to pretty much ask for a place to go find a bathroom. It’s almost like being a five-year-old again.”

Loudenslager also lost his shop next to his home in a fire about a year ago. It’s where he kept all his woodworking tools and golf clubs - all the things he needed to pursue his two biggest loves in life.

“I built my dinette set, my end tables, coffee table, I built all that stuff. Of course, they’re all burnt now, but I had a bunch of that in there, too - sleigh beds and stuff like that,” Loudenslager said. “There were a lot of things out there, but it wasn’t like in the house where you’ve got all your personal stuff, like pictures of your children and stuff like that that you cannot replace.”

Loudenslager was a truck driver until the COVID pandemic hit. That’s when he started working out of his shop until it burned down. Since then, he’s been doing contracting type jobs in the area to make ends meet.

“It’s still taking its toll,” Loudenslager said. “I don’t know where that’s going to stop because I’ve never had a fire in my life, and now all of a sudden I’ve had two big ones in two years. You’re heartbroken because there’s 17 years of memories just gone.”

But not quite all of them. In what could be some sign of hope, Loudenslager found his wedding photos in part of the wreckage, somehow untouched by the flames.

“If by some miracle I get all this put back together, then I guess life will continue, but I don’t know. That’s the kind of setback that can last the rest of your life.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Niles. He also needs clothing, shoes, and socks that can be dropped off at his property at 2221 Cherry Bend Circle in Bryan. He wears a size medium or 16 shirt, size 32x36 or 32x38 pants, and size 10.5 shoes.

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