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Guardian angel alerts family to fire, sets up fund

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Guardian angel alerts family to fire, sets up fund

Dave Jacobs, left, and his son Kyle, 19, are starting over again after a fire destroyed their home.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED February 1, 2013 12:49 a.m.

Lonnie Hanson doesn’t want the publicity or applause.

“I didn’t do any of this to be in the paper,” said Hanson, a longtime Raymus Village resident, whose heroics last week helped rescue a family from a home being slow-choked by fire and smoke.

It was his duty, he said, as neighbor and friend.

Hanson was the first to spy smoke during a house fire on Jan. 22 that displaced a 57-year-old man and his wheelchair-bound son.

Hanson pounded on the front door of the Jacobs’ blue corner lot home along Pueblo Way, alerting a still-sleeping Dave Jacobs to a fire that had engulfed his garage.

Jacobs had only enough time to save the bare essentials – himself, his son Kyle, a 19-year-old who suffers from muscular dystrophy, and the motorized wheelchair he requires – before toxic fumes barred him from re-entering the home.

“He’s a life-saver,” Dave said of Hanson. “By the time I got Kyle up and out, the house was completely engulfed in smoke. Had he not alerted us and kept banging on the door, I cannot even begin to think about what the outcome would have been.

“He’s the best neighbor I’ve ever had. He’s always been there for us.”

And he continues to be.

Hanson has set up the Dave Jacobs Catastrophe Fund at Wells Fargo to help the father and son get back on their feet. They lost virtually everything in the fire, from large furniture and precious medical supplies to the mundane – pots, pans, silverware, blankets, etc.

The Jacobs, who moved into a three-bedroom home in Escalon on Wednesday, did not have renters’ insurance or an emergency fund.

“They need it,” Hanson said of the fund, which will expire in three months.

“We had a fire three doors down – a very good friend – but he was covered the way he should have been. His insurance took care of it,” he added. “This family unfortunately didn’t do the things they should have done.  Right now, people are so strapped that they overlook the renters’ insurance, whatever it might cost – $20 or $30. He felt bad for not doing that.”

Dave Jacobs feels fortunate to have Hanson – his guardian angel since they moved into this close-knit community in May 2011.

He was among the first to greet Dave and Kyle. He’s offered tools and service, and now the donation fund. His wife Linda has also been an invaluable resource for the Jacobs, helping Dave with phone calls and various contacts since the fire.

“Dave was always cordial and friendly. Do we go out for tea? No, but if he needs help I’ll help him,” Hanson said. “Dave is all-right guy; he’s genuine.”

The community has rallied around Dave, a single father who quit his job to become his son’s full-time caretaker, and Kyle, a Sierra High graduate with a love for the gaming world.

In the last week, they’ve received: blankets and toiletries; a glowing referral for the rental in Escalon; a free-of-charge, week-long stay at the Hampton Inn in Manteca; as well as offers for a 54-inch television, two couches, a coffee table, like-new hospital bed and shower chair.

The most generous gift, though, has been Hanson’s watchful eye and sense of community.

Without it, Dave says, he and Kyle may not have survived the fire and smoke.

“When we first moved, he helped me trim my bushes because I didn’t have the tools. He always asked if we needed anything taken to the dumps. He’s the kind of neighbor everyone wants,” Jacobs said.

“That’s the one thing I’m going to miss more than everything else – the neighborhood. It was a wonderful place to live and I’ll miss it dearly.”

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