Cheryl McNair, the widow of NASA Space Challenger astronaut Ronald Erwin McNair, was rescued, along with her cat and some space memorabilia, from a fire at in her home in El Lago, TX early Wednesday morning, reports said.
McNair woke up to smoke alarms and a call from her alarm company around 5 a.m. Wednesday before multiple fire agencies responded to the home in the Clear Lake area, officials told KHOU 11.
McNair, who once shared the home with her astronaut husband, did not suffer any injuries. Fire officials recovered her cat, Rocket, and some NASA memorabilia.
NASA astronaut and physicist Ronald Erwin McNair died on January 18, 1986, along with six other crew members, when the Space Shuttle Challenger shockingly exploded 73 seconds after liftoff from Cape Canaveral, FL.
Firefighters managed to extinguish the fire within 45 minutes, and the house, though still standing, is a significant loss, reported KPRC Channel 2. At one point, the inferno became so intense that firefighters were called out of the home to fight the blaze in defensive mode, officials said.
“Units arrived within three to four minutes and did find a fully involved house fireball,” authorities told KPRC Channel 2. “There are pictures and plaques that were saved, at the same time there are pictures and plaques that are damaged.”
Steve Howard, who lives in the house directly behind the scene, said he saw the fire first hand.
“The whole house was pretty much engulfed in flames,” Howard told KPRC Channel 2. “She has already had a tough road. It was pretty sad for her to go through another tragedy.”
“She said to keep a lookout for her cat,” Howard said. “She was really concerned for her cat.”
Neighbors arrived to help McNair out of the burning home with some of the items she gathered.
NASA officials will reportedly visit McNair’s home to examine some of the memorabilia.
“People’s memorabilia is special to them, regardless if it’s national memorabilia or not,” Chief Andrew Gutacker, Seabrook Fire Department, told KHOU 11.
"NASA is just learning about the fire (at the home of Challenger widow Cheryl McNair),” NASA said in released statement. "Our hearts go out to the McNair family. We appreciate the tremendous support and assistance provided by first responders and the community."