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Neighbors rally to help family after fire destroys home

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
July 31, 2011 at 2:31 a.m.
Updated Aug. 2, 2011 at 3:02 a.m.

Victoria Orsak, 14, covers her mouth to protect herself from soot in the air as she walks through her home, which was burned by a fire early Sunday morning. She went with her mother, father and brother through the home to assess the damage.

HOW TO HELP

To assist the Orsak family, contact American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter at 361-573-2671.

Family requests donations of clothes for 14-year-old Victoria and 13-year-old Jacob.

Jacob: Pants, 16 Husky; Shirts, Men's Medium; Shoes, 11

Victoria: Pants, Jr. Size 6; Shirts, Medium; Shoes, 8 1/2

Other items requested: Stove and refrigerator.

Gathered around a covered picnic table at the Holiday Acres' neighborhood pool, Christy and Aaron Orsak hugged their friends and family.

A poolside barbecue was held in the Orsaks' honor Sunday afternoon in an effort to show support for the family, who lost their home to a house fire Saturday morning.

"I can't believe they did this for us," Aaron Orsak, 38, said at the barbecue.

As Christy and Aaron sat in the clubhouse next to the pool, exhausted from sleep depravation and hunger, they stared at a roomful of belongings still covered in smoke and soot from the blaze. Neighbors and friends helped the family move the salvageable items from their three-bedroom mobile home in the 2700 block of Leary Lane to the neighborhood clubhouse down the street.

"I've lived here most of my life, so I know most of the people here. It really is like a small family," Christy Orsak, a homemaker, said.

The Orsak house fire broke out about 1 a.m. Saturday in 13-year-old Jacob Orsak's bedroom. An exposed wire attached to a window air conditioning unit caught his bed on fire, and in minutes the flames spread throughout the home, Christy Orsak said.

"He came in our room and said the cord sparked," she said.

"He heard it pop and said his bed was on fire," Aaron Orsak added.

The couple's 14-year-old daughter, Victoria, was in the bedroom next door.

"I don't even want to think about what would have happened if he was sleeping," Aaron Orsak said. "We just won't talk about that."

Running to the other end of the home where Jacob's room was located, Aaron Orsak said he attempted to contain the fire. But without a fire extinguisher nearby, the smoke and flames overwhelmed him.

"If we would have had a fire extinguisher, there would have been no problem," Christy Orsak said. "Have a fire extinguisher and home insurance - it's a valuable lesson learned the hard way."

Christy Orsak said as the flames spread from Jacob's room to the opposite end of the home where her bedroom was located, she began screaming out the bathroom window for help.

"About six or seven neighborhood kids showed up at my window, and I just started lowering my animals out the window to them," she said.

Three dogs, three cats and a ferret were successfully rescued from the fire. Their 2-year-old dog, Saxon, an American bulldog and boxer mix, Shelby, the cat, and Pepe, the chinchilla, died from smoke inhalation.

The home was a total loss.

Following the fire, Aaron Orsak was admitted to an area hospital with severe smoke inhalation and minor burns to the face.

"I feel fine today," the Exterran lead mechanic said, nibbling on a few bites of sausage.

Because the Orsaks' home was uninsured, Christy said she's not sure how the family will come up with money for a new home.

"We'll get through this somehow," she said.

The couple said they are searching for a rental property in the Victoria area.

"We're looking into finding a rental property somewhere in the Victoria East school zone," Aaron Orsak said. "I think with our friends here and the Red Cross helping us out, we'll be OK."

Linda May, emergency services director of the American Red Cross Crossroads chapter, said the organization is assisting the family with clothing, food and temporary lodging.

Christy and Aaron said those interested in donating clothing and other items may contact the Red Cross.

She specifically requests clothing items for Victoria and Jacob, and kitchen appliances, such as a refrigerator and stove.

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