The following message was forwarded by Eurydice Turk from councilmember Paula Lantz. For those of you who haven't seen it, it's long but clarifies some of the information and discusses what WE can go to help.
Eurydice, and all you folks who get this one way or another,
I know this is a bit long, but I wanted to update you all as best I could.
Danielle Soto (Council Member for District 1, where all this took place), and I got there around 11:30. We were at a conference in San Diego this weekend, along with Council Members Rodriguez and Saunders. We walked and talked and tried to absorb the enormity of it all. Danielle and Cindy went to Stater's for ice, water and some other essentials as folks continued to pour in from the neighborhood, from family, church friends, customers that had heard about it on TV and via the “grape vine.” I was the chauffer. Several folks were there helping to board up the Henry’s place, as there may be some things salvageable. It was definitely a community effort!
We then went to the apartment complex where it began, and Muffin is right, you can’t see anything from the street, and to realize that it all started from there is amazing. We actually got there before the tenant whose place was damaged arrived. He had just returned from Havasu, and was looking forward to a shower and some “down” time. Obviously he was stunned, but as we walked through with him he was amazed. There was some water damage in the very front, on some stools and magazines, etc. but everything else was in great shape, unless the fine dust and ash messed things up. They were boarding the place up, so he needed to get his stuff out ASAP. We went to get my truck so he would be able to get it wherever he needed to, and he had also called his Dad and a friend. He was just afraid they wouldn’t get there in time, or that they wouldn’t have enough room. In the 15 minutes it took for us to get back with the truck, his Dad and friend were there, and they were sure that between the three vehicles they could get it all. Since he wasn’t there last night when the Red Cross was there, he hasn’t made contact. He has a place to stay, but his “stuff” is on a family member’s patio. What he could really use is someplace to store his stuff on a temporary basis until he finds out whether his Landlord has another place for him, or will refund the rest of his rent for the month so he can find another place. Phone service was a problem for the area most of the day, and Verizon was at the apartments repairing the damage to their utility lines until about 3. I think all is well now.
I know there have been rumors about a meth lab, and firecrackers, but Firefighters were there for several hours, tearing out some continuingly smoldering areas of the house, and trying to further assess what happened. They really have ruled out both of the above. According to Dawn this evening, they think it was a transformer, back over by the Gordon Street apartment complex. Apparently the transformer sparked, or “blew” or something, and started a storage shed on fire behind a house on Park Ave. The fire climbed an Oak tree to cross the fence to the back upstairs apartment on Gordon. The wind blew the embers across Gordon and some homes to eventually land in the vacant lot behind the Garden. While it had been recently mowed, all the dead grass was still there (formerly 4 or 5 feet high), and it caught the trees at the back of the Henry’s, then the roof of their back house, and so on. Mayor Rothman was there last night, as was Council member Atchley, and Mayor Rothman was there again shortly after noon today, and was obviously moved by this tragedy. Council Members Saunders and Rodriguez were also there this afternoon offering their support.
There have been many calls and emails from people who would like to help. Right now, since neither family has really determined what there long-term plans are (except both are determined to stay!) I think it would be best to hold off on any hard goods donations. When the need has been determined, Sandra Reyes, block captain from Monroe Street has volunteered to host the collection point. Thank you Sandra!
While in Stater’s today, Danielle asked about the possibility of their donating Stater’s Gift Cards, and the manager indicated that if we could get him the appropriate paper work, that was a good possibility. Thank you Danielle!
This morning during services at Pomona First Baptist, Pastor Gunderson announced that anyone wanting to contribute to the N. Gary victims could write checks to the church, writing “fire” on the bottom, and they would be setting up a special account to be split evenly between the two families. Pastor Gunderson was actually at the site by 5:30 last night, and members of the Church have been praying for the families for more than 24 hours now. I was also told that Pastor Bingham from Pilgrim Congregational also asked for prayers for the families during this morning’s service. I met with Pastor Gunderson this afternoon, and later with Dawn, and I think that we have a good plan that will facilitate any of you that may want to contribute money, since the specifics of what is needed is still so unclear. Danielle and I really wanted those contributing to at least have the tax advantages that come with that, and this seems to make that happen. Those who would like to write a check, make it out to: Pomona First Baptist Church. In the bottom left area, write Fire, or Fire Fund. Mail it to 586 N. Main Street, Pomona, CA, 91768, or drop it off at the Main Office, same address. If you would rather do it online, go to www.pfblive.tv and click on “on line giving.” Assuming you don’t have an account, or want one, just go to “give now.” There will be places for you name, etc. but eventually there is a box for the nature of the donation, the choices will be like, general fund, missions, etc, but click “other.” There is a box that drops down for you to specify, and just type Fire, or Fire Fund. Then you choose electronic check or credit card, and proceed as required. A couple of months ago they had PayPal as an option, but I didn’t see it when I tried it myself earlier. All such donations will be tax deductible, as long as you don’t put a specific name on the check or the online designation. “Fire” makes it tax deductible. At the end of the year the church sends a statement to the address you list, itemizing your contributions for tax purposes. Sounds like a win-win to me.
My thanks to all of you for your concerned and caring emails and phone calls. As hard as this is for so many, it is great to see how we all come together for those we care about.