The fire that destroyed a home and two vehicles Sunday night on Williams Ranch Road began in a four-car garage after the homeowner parked a riding lawnmower inside the garage, Brownwood Fire Marshal Buddy Preston said Monday.

Preston said he may never know if the riding lawnmower caused the fire because of the extent of the damage. He said possible scenarios involving the lawnmower include something happening with the battery or being parked too close to flammable material.

Preston said the homeowner, who he declined to identify, had been mowing all day, parked the mower and got a cold beverage. The homeowner was sitting on a porch on the opposite end of the house from the garage when a passerby drove up and told the man the house was on fire, Preston said. 

The man and his wife were the only occupants of the “pretty good-sized house,” Preston said.

Preston hadn’t determined Monday why the fire was initially dispatched as a grass fire, which meant the first trucks on the scene — two from Early and one from Brownwood — were brush trucks. The brush trucks ran out of water as multiple fire department scrambled to get water tankers to the scene. In addition to Brownwood and Early, fire departments from Blanket, Zephyr, Lake Bridge, Lake Dam, Winchell and Brookesmith responded, Preston said.

Preston was preparing to pull 9-1-1 tapes to try to determine why the fire was dispatched as a grass fire. He could not say if firefighters could have saved the house had it been dispatched as a structure fire, but said “we would have had a better chance.”

The American Red Cross is assisting the couple who lived in the home, Preston said. The home was insured, and the occupants indicated they stayed in a local hotel when Preston talked to them Monday.