$875,000 house goes up in smoke

A luxury house dangling over a fractured Lake Whitney cliff near Forth Worth, Texas, is now just a smouldering pile of rubble.

The owners burned it down themselves because the ground had begun to give way and it looked as if the home could fall into the river 22m below.

The 4,000 sq ft house was worth US$700,000 (S$875,000).

Owners Denise and Robert Webb had invested much of their retirement savings into the lakeside mansion, local television station WTSP reported.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that they may not get any insurance payout as they said their policy was unlikely to cover "earth movement".

Dozens of boaters watched from the lake as the mansion was set ablaze.

A demolition crew used hay and fuel to start the fire. Within minutes, the roof was engulfed by flames and the back part of the house crashed to the ground, CBS Local reported.

The Webbs had evacuated the property two weeks ago, because chunks of the cliff have been falling into the water. They were emotionally devastated as they watched their retirement investment go up in smoke.

They claimed that geologists and inspectors, before they purchased the home in 2012, had told them that the property was stable, Mail Online reported. The house was built in 2007.

"And so we bought it in good faith," Mr Webb is quoted as saying.

Says Mrs Webb: "It's gone. It's just gone. And you don't see how something that huge can just disintegrate right in front of your face."

Adds Mr Webb: "You know, that's my life there that we're watching fall off. Until you see it... sitting with what was your yard, gone. The deck that you used to sit on in a chair and look at the lake..."

He said he wanted to leave the house to his grandchildren.

After the fire was nearly finished, leaving just a trail of smoke, people were seen walking near the structure, examining what was a luxury home just a few hours ago.

This article was first published on June 15, 2014.
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