Tragedy strikes Flores’ home, community to help in recovery process


By Sloane Samberson
Staff Writer

In a blink of an eye, everything can change.

For Coppell High School advance quantitative reasoning and algebra II teacher Jennifer Flores and her husband, Jason Flores, lives were changed last Saturday evening.

“We pulled up to our block and saw three or four firetrucks,” Flores said. “At first we were like, ‘what’s going on?’ and ‘where is it happening?’ Jason was like, ‘no it’s not our house,’ but then we saw firefighters pulling up one of the water hoses to our driveway. That’s when we realized our house had caught fire.”

What is left of the closet where the fire originated. Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Flores.

Firefighters have not confirmed what caused the fire to ignite at their Arlington home, but presume Flores’ house was struck by lightning.

“What initiated the fire was the air conditioning unit inside the house,” Flores said. “That somehow started the fire, then the smoke spread through the AC vents and all of the deckwork in the attic.”

Luckily, the Flores, which includes their 1-year-old son Lucas, were not in their home when the fire ignited.

“I called my mom because she was actually bringing my son back home,” Flores said. “Thankfully, she had kept him overnight. Our main concern at the time were the dogs, but the firemen had rescued them.”

Everything in the house was affected by the smoke. All furniture, electronics and Flores’ son’s toys will have to be replaced due to the intensity of the fire and smoke. There is a strong possibility that all of their clothes will have to be replaced as well.

“We couldn’t go in at first,” Jason said. “It looked pretty severe from standing outside the front doorway. I anticipated worse news than we actually received.”

CHS algebra II teacher Reagan Richmond and close friend of Flores was first at the school to hear about the tragedy.

Through all the dirt and rubble, Flores finds her school badge. For Flores, this is a reminder of how lucky her family is to be OK and that material things can be replaced. Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Flores.

“[Flores] sent me a text message on Sunday to tell me she wasn’t going to be here on Monday and explain what had happened, and that the whole family was OK,” Richmond said.

Even for Richmond, she can’t begin to comprehend how her co worker and good friend is dealing with this.

“It was very surreal, thinking about what had happened,” Richmond said. “You always hear in the news, things that have happened to people, but I’ve never actually known anyone who has had something this horrific happen to them.”

According to Flores, nothing was truly lost.

“Some of our pictures that were in frames were damaged,” Flores said. “As far as personal items that were damaged, the smoke was in every room in the house so all of our things smell like smoke.”

The fire department estimates at least $20,000 worth of damage. The insurance company hasn’t completed their investigation, so the Flores’ do not know the amount of coverage they are estimating.

As soon as faculty and staff heard about Flores’ loss, they began brainstorming how they could help.

“I thought to myself, ‘What can I do to help? What can my family do to help? What can [Flores’] school family do to help?’” International Baccalaureate teacher and head of the math department Ian VanderSchee said. “By the time I came to that realization, Wendy Levell, who is a math teacher at CHS, had already started a fund to raise money for Flores within the math department, as well as the Sunshine Committee.”

The destructiveness of the fire blackened closet walls, causing insulation to pour out. The state of the closet is nearly emendable. Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Flores.

The Sunshine Committee is a benevolent type of organization that is a part of the CHS staff and faculty community. The Sunshine Committee collects donations from staff members to help fund anything from gifts and flowers, to money and giftcards when a teacher is in need.

“So far the math department has raised over $300 for that, and the Sunshine Committee, headed by ‘Ready, Set, Teach!’ teacher Shelly Redding, has raised over $800 from the entire campus,” VanderSchee said. “I know that [Flores’] students are getting together and doing something as well.”

Just as staff and faculty are concerned for how the Flores will recover, her students are too.

“I was very shocked,” CHS senior Abby Green said. “It made me really sad to hear about one of my teachers who works so hard and is so sweet, had something awful happen to her. I immediately wanted to help.”

When tragedy strikes or someone is in need, Coppell’s “family” environment really comes in to play.

“I like the fact that everybody sees the need, and kind of stops what they are doing with their personal lives,” VanderSchee said. “They say, ‘let me sacrifice what I can to help someone that I may not know very well, but somebody that obviously needs help.’ That is what Coppell is all about.”