Fire Destroys Gifts at Texas Children's Home

GLADEWATER, Texas (AP) -- A smoky fire damaged a center for handicapped children, displacing dozens of residents and destroying their Christmas presents, officials said.

The 116 children, many on ventilators and requiring medical supervision for neurological disorders, were evacuated by emergency workers after the blaze broke out Monday at the Truman W. Smith Children's Care Center. They were sent to hospitals, nursing homes and a high school. No one was injured.

The center sustained smoke and water damage will likely remain closed for at least a week, Fire Chief Wayne Smith said.

Firefighters took about two hours to control the blaze, which apparently began in an electrical panel and spread through an attic of the one-story building.

Water from a sprinkler system and fire hoses ruined many of the presents and stuffed animals under a Christmas tree near the front entrance, Smith said.

Center employees stacked blankets and boxes of medical supplies in a recreation yard. The extent of damage was being evaluated early Tuesday.

Children from across the state, with conditions such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, mental retardation and respiratory failure, are housed in the center.

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