Luxury Home Falling into Lake Whitney Set on Fire - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Luxury Home Falling into Lake Whitney Set on Fire

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(SEE PHOTOS of the house burning and plunging into the lake here)

(KCEN) -- It's not something you see every day: pieces of a burning house falling off a cliff into a lake.

That was the solution a local fire department came up with after a bluff gave way under a luxury home on Lake Whitney.

The pictures are stunning. "Front row seats, we got front row seats." one spectator, floating in the lake, said.

The circumstances are devastating. "I would hate for it to have been my house," said Douglas Miller, a Whitney boater.

The solution is one of a kind.

"This is actually a first for me," Texas Game Warden Matthew Bridgefarmer said.

"It went quick," said Paul Sauer, another local boater who took to the lake to watch the spectacle. For him, the potential risk of more of the bluff falling in was worth it.

"You had all the Corps [of Engineers] guys out here looking after everybody, doing a great job," Sauer said.

A $700,000 luxury home, sliding slowly off a collapsing cliff into Lake Whitney. More than two dozen boats turned out to watch as it burned, and to snap a few photos.

"It's a terrible deal," another swimmer said. "But we weren't going to miss it," he added with a laugh.

After nearly two hours of delays -- "Fire department is not going to start it until we get boats further out," game wardens announced twice throughout the morning -- smoke started to trickle out just before noon.

"Man, nice big house gone to waste," Miller said. "But I'm glad nobody was in the house, you know."

Just about half an hour after we first started seeing smoke coming out of the roof, it was pretty well engulfed, and even the debris pile down below it next to the lake was on fire too.

"I wouldn't be able to watch it. I'd be devastated," another swimmer in the same group said. "Yeah," her friend added, "if it was my own house I couldn't have watched it."

A dream house, crumbling into the lake it overlooks.

"That was kind of a fluke thing, I think," Sauer said. "Just one of the risks of living so close to the lake, I guess."

The risk of soft limestone bluffs falling away, and taking a home with it.

All the boats were kept several hundred yards away. Firefighters were concerned more of the bluff would break away and send up a 25-foot tidal wave.

For the spectators, it's not exactly a common sight.

"I never thought ... [I'd] see a house on fire falling in a lake," Miller said. It was a sight he couldn't resist.

"This ain't California," he said. "You know, this is Lake Whitney, and you don't really hear about houses falling off the cliff."

Among the two dozen other boats, two people in a canoe.

"We're used to those numbers of boaters," Bridgefarmer said. "Typically, especially on the holiday weekends 'round July 4th, you'll see that type of activity going on."

A lot of the house was still in tact in the early afternoon, but people started steadily leaving as the day dragged on. A little bit more than an hour after it first went up there were fewer than a dozen boats still watching.

A dazzling spectacle, shrouded in heartbreak.

"It would be a dream," another swimmer said. "And you're watching your dream burn up."

A nearly-million-dollar dream, crashing and burning.

The house had previously been condemned due to a crack in the limestone. The cost of debris cleanup will fall to the homeowners.
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