car fire

Krista Johnson’s vehicle is shown in flames in a Walmart parking lot in Mineola on Wednesday.

It was a typical Wednesday for Krista Johnson until her vehicle burst into flames in a Walmart parking lot, leaving her family of five with no car and added financial struggles.

Fortunately, no one was inside the van but they were inside the Mineola store, which made them unable to save items such as her diabetic daughter’s phone that allows her to track her blood glucose levels.

Sabrina Gonzales, who is Johnson’s mother, said the family was already experiencing financial struggles before this incident.

The family, who lives in Grand Saline, had driven to Mineola to buy groceries. Once they were inside the store, they realized they left the phone in the van and went back to get it. That’s when they found their family van in flames.

“Everything in the car was destroyed. The fire department got there and put it out, but everything was destroyed,” Gonzales said. “My daughter (Johnson) was calling me and crying.”

During those difficult moments immediately after the fire, the community came to support the family.

“The manager at Walmart came out and told my daughter, ‘you can go back in, on us, and get some more groceries.’ My daughter has five children ranging from 3 to 16 and the manager goes, ‘You can go get a car seat for your son and some shoes.’ I was like, ‘oh my goodness,’” Gonzalez said in tears. “I’m so grateful for everyone helping my daughter and granddaughter.”

According to Gonzalez, the family also received help from local members of a Mineola church who gave Johnson a gift card.

Although she was left without the van that was used to transport her family, Johnson is thankful for those who came together during the fire and the aftermath of the incident.

“It just saddens me that this happened to my daughter like this and it was so scary yet it was a blessing that everyone came forward that fast and helped her that day,” Gonzalez said.

“I want to thank all of the employees at Walmart in Mineola and the Mineola Fire Department as well as the Mineola PD for their fast response, and Freedom Baptist Church who donated food and a gift card,” Johnson added.

Gonzalez said the family usually doesn’t ask for help, but this is a time of need and they would appreciate any bit of help from the community.

“I don’t ask people for help, I try to do what I can, but it’s been hard times for all of us,” she said.

To help the Johnson family, you can send money through Venmo to Sabrina-Gonzalez-130 and Cashapp: $scg143. If you want to reach the family to donate items such as clothes and shoes, send a message on Gonzalez’ Facebook page.


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Video Editor / Bilingual Multimedia Journalist

Photographer and video editor for Tyler Paper but I also cover community outreach, bilingual content, events and education. Stephen F. Austin State University Alumna. Houstonian reporting in East Texas since January 2021. Story ideas? email me at