This is from Rusty Burke and was posted on the REHUPA list. I'm reprinting it with Rusty's permission.
I just talked to Jim, he seemed in pretty good spirits, all things considered -- he was bein' Jim. Says they don't have any real immediate needs -- Red Cross gave them some assistance, insurance gave them some (and house, truck, etc. were insured, though of course the books and pulps and such are probably irreplaceable). They're staying with his in-laws for now. But in spite of my bringing up the offer several times, he says they don't need any immediate help, they are well taken care of.
He did say that once they get settled and he has the space, he would certainly appreciate donations such as Larry is talking about, books about the West, copies of his own work, etc.
He lost the book he was working on, which was about half done. He emailed his editor when he was at the library and says he was told "I would drive nails through my hands before I'd take that book away from you." Now there's a good editor! Has five books lined up and is going to get working as soon as he can pick up a new laptop.
As to the origin of the fire: as most of you know, it's been dry in Texas, and there are burn bans all over the state. He says the wind was blowing like hell yesterday, and the fire department thinks that some electrical wires blew together and arced, sending sparks into the dry grass, the wind whipped it up and sent it racing right at his house. He was at home alone -- the girls were off at their schools student teaching and Livia was running errands -- and he smelled smoke. He went outside and saw the field on fire, racing toward the house. He grabbed the hose, turned back around and saw how fast the fire was coming, said the hell with it, threw down the hose and ran into the house and grabbed the dog and ran like hell. Said the whole time from when he saw the flames to when he was running for his life was about a minute and a half. That fire must have been damned hot to take the house and studio as quickly and totally as it did. He also lost that beautiful new F-150 I was admiring when I saw him at the REH Birthday Bash just a little over a week ago.
I should let Jim tell his story himself once he gets up and running again -- he promises that once he has the laptop he'll find a wireless joint and get back online and bring us up to date. But like I say, he seemed to be in pretty good spirits. So keep sending good thoughts their way, but we don't need to organize any immediate relief efforts.
If you have or can get copies of his books or the anthologies with his contributions, or books about Texas and the West, I know that when the time comes that he can start putting a library together again he will appreciate it.