Community Responds With Donations
By Carlos Padilla
Wind gusts in excess of 50 miles per hour fanned flames that swept through a mobile home on South Mercury Street in Truth or Consequences Thursday afternoon, April 26, and fully engulfed the structure.
Within a matter of minutes, everything was gone.
Homeowner John Curtis told The Herald that while he was at work, his wife, Jillian, picked the couple’s children up from school and brought them home. Jillian left 12-year-old Mackenzie and 10-year-old Kendell at home for a few minutes, John says, to run to her mom’s house and buy gas with their five-month-old son.
In those few moments, flames overtook the home.
With firefighters preparing to battle the blaze and law enforcement clearing a nearby mobile home that was threatened by the wind-driven flames, Jillian ran up, screaming for her children.
The 12-year-old daughter reportedly came out of her room, located on the eastern side of the residence, because she thought she smelled smoke. She walked into the living room, and when she turned around, she reportedly saw flames coming from the flooring in the mobile home.
“My 12-year-old daughter, Mackenzie saved her sister’s life,” John told The Herald, explaining how Mackenzie, upon seeing the flames come up through the floor, grabbed her sister and forced her out of the house. The two young girls immediately ran to a neighbor’s house across the street.
“We have lost everything,” John told The Herald at the scene, “but that’s okay. My family is okay, and that’s what matters. We are grateful to be alive.”
The American Red Cross has been contacted to assist the family.
Sierra County Emergency Management Office Director Donna Sanchez told The Herald that the Red Cross will be assisting the Curtis family.
Approximately one hour after the fire was brought under control, the donations for the Curtis family started pouring in. Spurned by word of mouth, social media and an article with photos appearing at www.theheraldtorc.com within hours of the fire, the community immediately stepped up when it was made known that the Curtis family was in desperate need of bedding, clothing, toiletries and other household items for the married couple, their six-month-old son who has respiratory complications from birth and needed a nebulizer, as well as items for their two daughters.
County EMO Sanchez told The Herald that the family’s immediate needs have been met, and that they presently don’t have room to store all of the items that have been generously donated by the community. Sanchez further stated that they are looking for another home, and at that time will need furniture and household items.
The occupants of the residence next door, however, are reportedly dealing with smoke damage. The residence was damaged by fire when that mobile home caught fire, and sustained damage from radiant heat.
A fire crew was sent over to extinguish that blaze, and had to cut a section of floor and wall to accomplish that.
The second mobile home is presently uninhabitable, according to Sanchez. Information regarding the needs of this resident was not available.