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HELPING NEIGHBORS

Volunteers clean up aftermath of April 23 fire

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HELPING NEIGHBORS

Church members from Crossroads Community Church and neighbors from the Moffat Boulevard mobile home park began a cleanup operation Friday morning that was expected to take at least four days

Photo courtesy Tricia McGathy)/


POSTED May 5, 2014 1:06 a.m.


Neighbors and other volunteers pitched in Friday morning to help remove the debris from an April 23 fire that destroyed one mobile home and caused extensive smoke damage to another in the 500 block of Moffat Boulevard.

That team of 15 included an outreach delegation of the Crossroads Community Church headed by Pastor Jim Todd began disassembling the burned-out structure into one of at least two 40-yard dumpsters.  Shady Grove mobile park manager Tricia McGathy said the effort to help the affected residents was a “heart and soul story” of people helping people without any regard for pay.

Brenda C. Beyer said her cat “Kitty” had been acting strange around her throughout the day, constantly in her way.  When the mobile home just off Moffat Boulevard enveloped into fire she knew she had to get her Vietnam Navy veteran husband into his wheelchair and out the door.

She said remembers when she called 911 and told the operator of their location she was told not to get off the phone.  She remembers responding, “We’re on fire, we’ve got to get out,” putting the phone down and breaking the connection.

Next door neighbor Jeanne Laurence and her sister were watching TV and waiting for “Chicago Fire” to be aired.  She said her dog was on her lap and very disturbed and anxious before the glow of flames illuminated their living area and smoke filled their mobile home.

She said the smoke was so thick they couldn’t see.  Laurence said she prayed to God to help them get out to safety.  It was seconds later that there was pounding at their door by a firefighter who called out, “Is anyone in there?”  She answered with a resounding, yes, having to rescue their dogs from under a bed.

 Seven fire engines responded to the fire from all the Manteca stations, Ripon and Lathrop.  The women said two of the firefighters fell through the floor of the mobile home as they were attempting to control the blaze. 

While the adjacent trailer didn’t actually catch fire, the smoke did its damage. It took seven days to return the Laurence home back to a livable condition.  An old historic barber chair, charred but usable as an antique, is being donated to the Ripon Historical Society.

Firefighters brought two of Beyer’s cats’ bodies out of the ashes, but “Kitty” who tried to sound a warning was not located.  It is the hope that the cat was frightened and is hiding out following the blaze and will eventually come home.  The lost pets were named Angel and Pittles. 

The two women said they have twice run off scavengers who they caught going through the remaining debris.  Brenda and Art Beyer offered any tools found in the aftermath to be given to the Crossroads Outreach team for other they find in need in the future.   Art Beyer served as a diesel mechanic in Vietnam between 1972 and 1975 and is now suffering from MS, his wife said.  They were offered to live in a mobile home of a neighbor Richard Somera until they could find a new location.

The more than 100 residents of the mobile home park collected clothing for the couple that had lost everything in the fire.  There are some 53 housing units in the park.

All the food, water and drinks were donated to the effort by the park residents while plywood and other hardware needs were donated by Home Depot.

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