Ben Orten was using a hand-held propane torch inside his home on Franke Street in Brownwood Friday afternoon, soldering wires as he rebuilt an air compressor. Orten went outside, leaving the torch unattended — and minutes later, Orten's house in the 2900 block of Franke was in flames.
No one was injured.
That's the scenario Fire Marshal Buddy Preston described after the fire destroyed the single-story wood frame home where Orten, who was single, lived alone. Orten, who had no insurance on the home, went to a relative's home for the night and is being assisted by the American Red Cross, Preston said.
Preston estimated that Orton is in his mid-to-late 40s.
The fire began around 3:30 p.m., and the home was fully involved when firefighters arrived, and shifting winds fed the fire, Preston said. The roof's shingles were on fire but covered with tin, and firefighters had to removed the tin to get to the fire on the roof.
Preston said Orton was rebuilding the air compressor, which he described as "a big air compressor on wheels." Orton had taken a part inside to solder wires that attach the started to the battery.
Orton was using in torching the back part of the house. Preston said he wasn't sure if the room where Orton was working was a bedroom or dining room. Somehow the torch fell over after Orton left it to go back outside, Preston said.