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Electrical fire leaves Bloomington family homeless

By BY ALLISON MILES - AMILES@VICAD.COM
Sept. 19, 2011 at 4:19 a.m.

Damaged items sit outside a Bloomington mobile home that caught fire about 8 a.m. Monday. No one was injured. To see video, view the story online at www.vicad.com

HOW TO HELP

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

BLOOMINGTON - A child's sandal. Scorched clothing. A TV melted nearly beyond recognition.

These were among the items that sat outside a Bloomington mobile home that caught fire Monday morning.

Jeremy Gonzales left his home at the corner of Houston and San Antonio streets for work before 8 a.m., but soon received a call from his wife, Crystal Palomares. When Palomares and her mother, Brenda Saenz, returned home after taking the children to school, they noticed smoke in the air.

"She said it looked like someone was burning trash in the back," he said. "But then she saw smoke coming from a bedroom window."

The blaze was in Saenz's room and, luckily, she had accompanied Palomares in the car, Gonzales said, explaining Saenz typically sleeps in. While a neighbor tried to help battle the fire, Saenz called 911.

The fire was mostly out by the time the Victoria County Fire Marshal's office got to the scene, said David Phillips, the office's assistant chief. At the time, members of the Bloomington Volunteer Fire Department were putting out hot spots inside the trailer.

Phillips said the fire was contained to the bedroom and most of the damage occurred to the mattress, carpet and other interior items. Fire personnel determined it was an electrical fire.

"We cleaned out debris, sheet rock from the ceiling and things like that to see what the cause was," he said. "It didn't appear to burn too bad."

The fire's timing was impeccable, Gonzales said. Not only did he begin a new job Monday, but also his younger daughter, Miley, turns 2 Saturday.

"Everything's happening at once," he said. "I hope I have a job to go back to, but I don't know. It was my first day."

The American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter assisted the family with food and clothing vouchers, as well as two hotel rooms, said Linda May, the organization's emergency services director.

"We're just glad that nobody got hurt and that we're able to assist them," she said.

Mid-Coast Family Services also offered help, Gonzales said, and family and friends are willing to lend a hand.

Still, he said, the future is unknown for the now-homeless family, which consists of not only husband, wife and mother-in-law, but the couple's three children, 9-year-old Jeremy, 5-year-old Jada and Miley.

"We're going to take it day by day," he said. "It's hard, but you've got to keep on going, I guess. But where do you start?"

The blaze was shock enough, but the Bloomington family received one more surprise when the older children returned from school.

Jeremy Gonzales, a fourth-grader at Bloomington Elementary, pulled out a picture he'd drawn of a burning home for fire prevention week.

At the time, he didn't know about his own home's blaze.

"When they told me, I thought they were lying," he said of the fire. "I couldn't believe it."

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