A valley chef and businesswoman is trying to recover after nearly losing everything she owns including her house in a fire.
Chermica Simmons' home went up in smoke Saturday, Dec. 4. She said a floor lamp burst into flames while she was out at work. Her home is now red-tagged and unlivable.
"I got home and everything was gone," Simmons told News Channel 3 in an exclusive television interview. "The whole house, from the front to the back."
You may have seen Simmons at Villagefest or the Palm Springs farmer's market – she's the owner of Mica's Soul Food. Even after her home burned down, she's been out cooking at community events.
"I'm used to taking care of myself," she said. "I'm used to working hard and having so much stuff. It's very hard."
Lost in the fire were her food prep tools, freezers, utensils, pots and pans.
She had insurance, but not enough to cover the damage, she said. And it's the precious memories lost that hurt the most.
"I had memories of my mother that just passed in 2019; I had memories of my brother that passed in '98," Simmons said.
A GoFundMe page has been launched, raising almost $12,000 that will go toward rebuilding Simmons' life. That's nearly halfway to the fundraiser's goal. Simmons said she's feeling the support from all around.
Amid the mangled mess, one of the only salvageable items was perhaps a sign from somewhere she needed it most: a t-shirt from her late younger brother.
"It was just really mysterious," Simmons said. "For me, I took it like he’s here with me, so it's a great blessing. I appreciate you little Chris."
And through it all, she said she's persevering. "I'm going to keep pushing."