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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Back-to-back fires, 2 families homeless

Thursday, March 22, 2001

Two mobile homes go up in flames on same night in same block, efforts are underway to help both families.

By THOMAS KLETT and DANA LARSEN

Pilot-Tribune Staff

There has been an outpouring of support for two families whose homes burned down Monday evening. Both fires occurred in the same area of the Vista Mobile Homes Park on West 8th Street within hours of each other.

In fact, firefighters and a state fire marshal official were still on the scene of the first fire when the second one broke out a few doors east.

"The two fires were not connected. There is no doubt in my mind of that at this point," Fire Chief Mike Jones said Wednesday. "It is a terrible coincidence, but a coincidence is what it is."

Various groups and individuals in the Storm Lake area have stepped in to assist the families, both of which lost almost all of their possessions in the fires. The families are currently searching for homes to rent.

The cause of the fire at 604 West 8th Street is still undetermined. Jones said he does not feel it was an arson, although nothing has been ruled out. Police and the State Fire Marshal are assisting with the investigation. The fire later at 502 West 8th appeared to have started near a water heater, possibly caused by an electrical short.

The first fire broke out shortly before 6 p.m. Storm Lake Police officers were first on the scene, trying to evacuate neighbors and shouting to residents to try to determine if any children were inside the burning home. Firefighters arrived moments later, finding flames shooting out of the roof, doors and windows of the mobile home. A car and a van in the carport were also in flames.

The home was owned by Ramiro and Norma Rendon. The couple and three children had not been in the home at the time. They stood at a neighboring trailer's lawn and watched it burn. One daughter held a backpack and a small bag of belongings, while a younger sibling clung to her mother's arms.

About three hours later, while the firefighters were still working on the scene of the first fire, a blaze was reported just down the block at 502E West 8th St. Flames were showing through the west side windows and the home was heavily engulfed in smoke as the fire engines moved to that site. The second mobile home was rented by Humberto Denavidez and Laurencia Garcia and their three children. Damage to the home is estimated to be in excess of $20,000.

The Rendon mobile home is considered a total loss, Jones said. Temporary housing has been located for the family.

Read the rest of this story in the 3/22 Pilot Tribune.



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