By Jim Predmore
Miricle on 10th Street
At about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday an alarm went out of a structure fire at a residence on Underwood Road just on the outskirts of the City of Holtville. Arriving on scene were the Holtville Fire Chief Alex Silva and Police Chief Bobby Benavides, who immediately began to access the situation. Chief Benavidez comforted the resident overtaken with emotion, who was crying out, “Mama! Mama”! while pounding his fists on the back of the Sheriffs’ vehicle obviously overtaken with grief.
Chief Silva radioed for backup and immediately and assessed the fire while waiting for the fire trucks to arrive, then he directed his fire crews to start extinguishing the burning foliage as structure which was fully engulfed in flames, it was obvious that it would be impossible to save the structure. The fire spread into the trees that surrounded the residence send flames high into the air , threatening the nearby homes. There were several large trees with a mixture of palm trees that surrounded the house obscuring it from view. The location of the mother was uncertain and the outlook was bleak considering the intensity of the fire.
Within minutes other fire engines started arriving at the location. Containment and recovery of the victim became the primary concerns. Engine after engine arrived on scene until there were crews from Holtville, El Centro, Calexico, Brawley, Imperial County and the Navy base battling this three-alarm fire.
After about an hour the fire crews had literally surrounded the residence and started to get the upper hand on the fire with just a few hot spots remaining. There was a sudden commotion near the southeast corner of the residence. Firefighters started yelling, “Victim!” and requested help in that immediate area. After a few seconds, they walked out with an elderly lady and helped her across the street to receive medical assistance from the Holtville paramedics on scene. One of the officers said “she was just sitting there”.
Holtville’s Mayor Mike Goodsell and I realized that the Son wasn’t aware that his Mother had somehow survived. We walked down to the north end of Magnolia Avenue where the despondent son was sitting in a van surrounded by family members. We informed them that his mother had somehow gotten out and that she was being treated by the paramedics. One of the family mambers said “We Thought she was dead”. We told them where she was at the other end of the street. They drove the van from Thiessen to Underwood where they were reunited with the Mother, who was also Grandmother to several other family members huddled together there. The family was overtaken with emotion with several of them bursting into tears, but these were tears of joy.
Earlier as the fire was being fought, several of those in command were very somber, thinking that there was a victim inside the home. When she walked out they were wondering how she could possibly have survived all the roaring flames and billowing smoke. She had been immersed in it all for more than hour.
The 73 year old Man and 93 year old Woman have lost everything that they had owned but they still have each other.
A go fund account has been established and can be found here. https://www.gofundme.com/n04580