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Crews torch house teetering on Texas cliff

WHITNEY, Texas (AP) -- Charred debris from a luxury cliff-side home fell 75 feet into a lake below on Friday after fire crews set the $700,000 retreat ablaze rather than wait for it to crumble into the water as the land faltered around it.

It took less than an hour for the fire to level the home above Lake Whitney, about 60 miles south of Fort Worth. Flames consumed exterior walls after crews spread bales of hay and fuel to ignite flames throughout the expansive home.

The ground around the home cracked and became unstable in recent months. Then a few days ago, part of the land gave way beneath the 4,000-square-foot home, leaving pieces of the house dangling off the side of a cliff. Authorities condemned the home and the owners, Robert and Denise Webb, consented to Friday's burn.

Authorities said destroying the house was better than waiting for it to topple into Lake Whitney. The cost of removing mounds of debris from the lake could prove prohibitive.

Spectators in dozens of boats witnessed the demolition from a safe distance. Live television coverage shared the view of the spiraling black smoke coming from the gated resort community.

The Webbs purchased the home in 2012, but a few weeks ago were forced to remove their personal items and relocate. They expressed shock and sadness at losing their lake house.

The Webbs, who also have a home along Florida's Miami Beach, told WTSP-TV on Thursday that the deterioration of their property has been hard to watch.

"You know, that's my life there that we're watching fall off," Robert Webb said the day before the demolition.

Geologists and inspectors had told them before they purchased the land that the property was perfectly stable, "and so we bought it in good faith," Webb said.

The house, built in 2007, was to have been left to his grandchildren, he said.

"It's really tough, that house was special and I don't even know why it was so special but it was special to me," Denise Webb said.

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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
pazman807 June 13 2014 at 4:38 PM

People are truly amazing, some of these comments stating "why feel sorry for a rich guy" just shows the inhumanity and jealousy of some these individuals. You feel sorry when something terrible happens to anyone regardless of their wealth or place in society. Its called has compassion and sympathy for your fellow human being.

Flag Reply +99 rate up
23 replies
cindy June 13 2014 at 7:45 PM

Obviously many of you people haven't read everything and are basing your judgements on what you are seeing and reading in the media.This man, wether he has money or not, used most of his retirement to purchase this home.He must have worked hard many years to be able to buy this home and eventually leave it to his grandchilden when the time came.To have to sit hear and read most of these nasty comments from people who are most likely jealous that they would never be able to afford a dream home like this is awful.I feel sorry for the man and his family having to deal with something like this and then to have to come read all these judgemental comments from people is dispicable.Have a little compassion for your fellow man.It will go a long way.

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7 replies
Debbie June 13 2014 at 4:09 PM

I wonder why they were allowed permits to built so close to the edge of a high cliff area? Money talks doesn't it?

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19 replies
mikkinyc1 June 13 2014 at 4:19 PM

Wow. That house was built just 7 years ago. That is incredible that there was no way to tell that there was a chance of that cliff being unstable. What a waste.

Flag Reply +23 rate up
3 replies
slmognet66 June 13 2014 at 4:01 PM

That house was an eyesore anyways.... It was blocking everyone else's view of the lake. I'm kidding...I'm kidding, c'mon people...laugh with me here..

Flag Reply +17 rate up
10 replies
neal.b June 13 2014 at 4:06 PM

I feel more sorry for the man in Florida that was gobbled up by a sinkhole a few years back. He lived in a modest home in an average neighborhood. Why feel sorry for someone who can afford a $700,000 home perched atop a cliff? They aren't doing too bad and hey, if their insurance company doesn't bail them out the taxpayers will.

Flag Reply +16 rate up
22 replies
yankeetweety June 13 2014 at 9:33 PM

Having lived just around the corner from White Bluff where this home is located, I can honestly say that the folks who owned the home have paid dearly. Not only are they losing their home, they are losing a part of themselves. The view of lake Whitney day or night is priceless. Unless you have been to this area, you have no idea what it is like to see your dream die. My heart goes out to them.

Flag Reply +13 rate up
2 replies
tewdeeq yankeetweety June 14 2014 at 3:32 PM

booo hoo. Some people never see their dreams come to fruition.

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2 replies
karen_le1 tewdeeq June 14 2014 at 4:23 PM

Though that is true ( for one reason or another) does that mean NO ONE should be allowed to have and enjoy their dreams?

Flag +5 rate up
BurntAnne tewdeeq June 14 2014 at 5:24 PM

You can't have a dream and just sit on your butt and expect it to happen. If it does, then your dreams weren't worth much, were they?

Flag +5 rate up
breakness yankeetweety June 14 2014 at 6:12 PM

Well said. The Class Envy card doesn't play with me. A home, no matter how expensive or how modest is still somebodys home. I've lived in both types. Watching this destroyed is just sad.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
hercurleywig June 13 2014 at 4:22 PM

Yikes! I sure wouldn't want to be the person mowing the lawn along that cliff!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
houseosims hercurleywig June 13 2014 at 4:32 PM

With all the mishaps I have mowing, I'd probably have gone over the edge long before the house started to go.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
dmoth88 houseosims June 13 2014 at 9:42 PM

I Have a fly-mo for just these situations

Flag +1 rate up
turnkey181 June 13 2014 at 4:36 PM

As the saying goes"what goes up will eventually come down"

Flag Reply +6 rate up
3 replies
Bess June 13 2014 at 4:03 PM

i didn,t see a cat either .thinkyou are seeing things.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
2 replies
Richard Bess June 13 2014 at 4:27 PM

I didn't see a cat either

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
donahuepapad123 Richard June 13 2014 at 11:54 PM

its right there , ??? next to the pink little elephant ?? hick-uupppp ?

Flag 0 rate up
bambi4318.barbara Bess June 13 2014 at 5:41 PM

There's no cat.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
heart2survive bambi4318.barbara June 13 2014 at 6:06 PM

meow... here kitty kitty...nope, no cat.

Flag +2 rate up
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