SAN ANGELO, Texas (Concho Valley Homepage) — A local couple, both of whom are veterans and clergy members, have been struggling to restart their lives after their home and everything in it, including their five pets, was devastated in a fire.

David Harvatin and Michelle Harvatin

The fire that took almost everything from David and Michelle Harvatin on October 13 occurred in the Huntington and Inglewood residential area. Thick smoke had engulfed the home, which could be seen as far as the TX-306 Loop. The fire began in the backyard near their gazebo with the Harvatin’s four dogs still outside. The fire quickly spread through the yard to the home in six minutes. Inside the home was the family cat. All pets were lost.

“Things can be replaced and memories are still there but its difficult to try and pick up the pieces and say we’ll just make new memories because you’re missing a part of your family,” said David Harvatin. “Thats what our dogs were, what our cat was, they’re family.”

David is the Assistant Pastor at Eagles Wings International Ministries and his wife, Michelle, is the Executive Elder. Both served in the Air Force for many years – David is a disabled veteran having served for 26 years and Michelle served for 15 years.

(Left to Right) – Leelee (11 years old), Phonzey(Under 4 years old), Chelsea(4 years old), Riley(8 years old), Zoey(12 years old) – Photos by David and Michelle Harvatin 

David and his wife are devasted, telling CVHP that the lossis taking its toll on their everyday lives. Michelle has developed PTSD following the incident and even the smallest task sparks memories of their beloved pets.

David said he has reason to suspect that the fire was not an accident and instead set purposefully. A preliminary investigation determined the cause to have been a faulty power strip. However, David said this could not have been possible based on Ring security camera footage that showed the fire starting in a different location moments after receiving an alert detecting a person within range of the camera. The official investigation concluded that the cause of the fire was undetermined. David said that the footage was too pixilated, in addition to being behind a bug net, to clearly make out a person at the scene.

“We’re not rebuilding there,” said David. “If it was someone that intentionally did this, then I’m just giving them an opportunity to do it again.”

This had been the families first home after the Harvatins were married, the first home they raised their children in and took care of their grandchildren in.

“It was filled with toys, and with love, ” said David.” We built so much history and memories and we’ll never get those back.”

In order to help the family restart their lives, the West Texas Counseling and Guidance organization is holding a food fundraiser at the Cactus Hotel lobby on November 13th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. They will be serving pulled pork and beef sandwiches plus side plates.

Additionally, a GoFundMe has been created by the Eagles’ Wings International Ministries to help the family rebuild.