Chris Ashworth vows to rebuild after losing his two beloved dogs and everything he owns in a devastating house fire. But in order to do that he will need help from strangers too. Chis told Popular Military, “I’m a giver, not a taker. I never borrowed money from anyone before, I like to do things on my own. So this is very hard for me.” 32-year-old retired Army Staff Sergeant Chris Ashworth and his family lost all their belongings in a fire that gutted their home in early August.
Drivers started making calls to the local fire department after seeing flames tearing through a home off the main highway in Copperas Cove, Texas. When firefighters showed up at the scene, intense flames had already taken down a good portion of the structure — a four and a half bedroom double-wide trailer.
By the time the first responders arrived on scene, it was too late to save Ashworth’s beloved dogs, Kaiser and Romeo – a Boxer and Pitbull — that he rescued two years earlier.
Ashworth says he and his fiance Crystal and their 8-month old baby twins were out watching the Ronda Rousey fight Saturday Aug. 1, when the fire broke out. Their niece, whom they adopted was the first to contact them after she found fire trucks and emergency crews surrounding the property, which sits on three acres of land, in a rural town right outside Ft. Hood.
When their 17-year old niece called to tell the couple the house was engulfed in flames, Chris said to her calmly, “Well okay, just get the dogs out.” She started to sob uncontrollably, it was too late. The dogs were already gone.
Chris remembers them fondly — how he worked so hard to train them, how people complimented him often on how well-behaved the two dogs were. “I never had to use a leash on him,” Chris said about his Pitbull.
Chris says fire investigators believe this could be the work of arsonists. The cause is still not yet known, but they are suspicious since another house, less than three miles away, was also on fire while Chris’ house was burning to the ground. That home too was a total loss.
Ashworth says another shocking discovery he made when he returned to the house several days after the fire — all of his power tools, burner, and lawnmower had been stolen from the shed on his property.
Ashworth works 11 hours a day—hauling equipment out to construction sites for “prepping,” despite a disability he has from a car accident back in 2012. He’d like to eventually ‘run’ a mail truck which would require driving a semi from city to city, across the state of Texas. Chris is currently building up his commercial driver’s license experience for that future job opportunity.
Chris says he and his fiance have to do what it takes right now for their 8-month old twins, Whitney and William — named after a close friend who was killed in Afghanistan. Ashworth did back-to-back tours in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2004 to 2012. All of Chris’ military memorabilia was destroyed in the house fire. His army gear, helmet, uniforms, award plaques, pictures — all of them gone. The keepsake with the most sentimental value– his tanker boots– he’ll never get back again either.
But Chris and his family remain hopeful that they’ll save enough to one day rebuild in the same spot. For now, they are getting some help from family members as they try to begin the process of starting over. It’s not easy for anyone with children this age, but to be uprooted like this with so many depending on us, “it’s been really difficult,” he said.