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Fire leaves two families homeless (w/video)

By Elena Watts
Dec. 17, 2013 at 6:17 a.m.

Firefighters spray the smoldering roof at the scene of a fire on Northampton Circle in Victoria. The call came in about 10:30 a.m., and firefighters had the fire under control by 10:53 a.m., said Battalion Chief Shannon Martin.

Alifia Motiwala was sitting in her living room with her 3-year-old son when the smoke alarm sounded Tuesday morning. She grabbed a ladder to check the battery and soon smelled smoke.

She ran outside with her son and called 9-1-1.

No one was injured in the fire that erupted in the 300 block of Northampton Circle.

The Victoria Fire Department received the call at 10:30 a.m., said Shannon Martin, battalion chief.

Fire was apparent in the front left corner of the house when firefighters arrived.

By 10:53 a.m., the fire was under control.

"We were very pleased with the response of the fire department," said Kim Beckham, who lives across the street from the Motiwalas.

One room was damaged extensively by the fire, and the rest of the structure was damaged by heat and smoke, Martin said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Victoria Fire Marshal's Office.

Two families lived in the house. Alifia Motiwala lived there with her husband, Sajid "Sam" Motiwala, and their two sons. Lin and Irfan Motiwala also live there with a son and a daughter.

Together, the families own Regal Jewelers and Aling's Chinese Cuisine in the Victoria Mall.

The home is uninhabitable, so the Motiwalas plan to stay with friends for a couple of weeks, Sam Motiwala said.

"We just celebrated with all the neighbors," said Sandy Brill, the Motiwalas' next-door neighbor. "The Motiwalas gained their citizenship on Sept. 26."

When neighbors mentioned to the Motiwalas that they were gathering bank cards and store gift cards to help them through the next few weeks, the two families were embarrassed that the neighborhood was helping them out, Beckham said.

"They said America had been so good to them and that others needed the help more than they did," Beckham said.

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