On Monday, Jamie Gann and Danny Cater, along with their three children, returned to their burned-out home for the first time since a fire destroyed it.
Last Thursday morning, the Desert Hot Springs residents had just minutes to escape. They managed to get out unharmed, but were left homeless with only the clothes they wore on their backs.
“I just want my kids to have a Christmas, you know? Just a home to go to. We don’t even have a home to go to anymore,” Cater told KESQ News Channel 3’s and CBS Local 2’s Katie Widner.
Cater said he believed the fire started after the family enjoyed a fire in their fireplace last Wednesday night. He said it appeared the fire was less than a smolder when they went to bed.
“From what the firemen were saying, it was burning in the attic before we went to bed,” he said.
Just before 7 a.m., a smoke alarm went off.
“I remember hearing this popping and cracking and thinking, God, what is that?” he said.
Minutes later, their 13-year-old son dashed into the room and the house began filling with black smoke. The family had only moments to round up their three dogs and guinea pig, and leave.
When the family returned to the home, they found one of their two missing cats peeking out of the rubble. He had apparently been waiting for his family to return. They are still searching for the second cat.
Cater said the situation unfolded so fast that Gann ran out of the home in her bathrobe. She wore it to the second-hand store Angel View later that day to buy new clothes. The entire family was left barefoot.
“I tried going back in at one point and grabbing my wallet and trying to find the keys to my truck and I got her purse. And by the time I came out, the ceiling was glowing red-hot and looked ready to come down,” Cater said. “I had to crawl to get out.”
It was moments later that the roof collapsed, destroying everything the flames had not. CAL FIRE/Riverside County said the home, which had been in the family for 17 years, had $300,000 worth of damage. The family said it is a total loss.
The family is staying at a hotel with money they received from the Red Cross. However, it will only cover one more night. They do not know what they will do come Tuesday, now that they’re homeless.
“If anybody can help us, we’ll take it because I don’t know what to do,” he said.
Already the community is coming together to help. Donations can be dropped off at Kings Remediation, located at 19020 North Indian Canyon, Palm Springs. Inside Building 2, Unit C.
The clothing sizes for the family are as follows:
Shirt: 6X Pants: 5 Shoes: 11
Shirt: Medium in men’s Pants: 30×32
Kyle, Jr., 16:
Shirt: 2X Pants: 44X32
fire was reported Thursday morning on the 8500 block of Warwick Drive, inside the Mission Lakes Country Club community.