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Fire victim grateful for efforts to help him & son
FIRE JACOBS5-1-26-13
Kyle Jacobs with all of his belongings that his father was able to retrieve from the fire. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Kyle Jacobs hasn’t slept in a bed in almost a week, choosing the support of his wheelchair over the much-too-plush hotel mattress.

His father Dave Jacobs longs for a meal that doesn’t come in a bun.

“I can’t eat another hamburger,” Dave said.

It won’t be long.

Chased from their home by a fire last week, the Jacobs have taken refuge at the Hampton Inn in Manteca, living out of sacks and fast-food bags. The blaze charred the garage of their Raymus Village rental and smoke damaged everything else, leaving this father and son homeless, helpless and hopeless.

Dave, a 57-year-old former boat salesman who served in the Vietnam War, rescued what he could.

He carried Kyle – a sharp-as-a-whip 19-year-old who suffers from muscular dystrophy – and his motorized chair out of the house first. When he tried to go back into the home for personal belongings, he was turned back by toxic fumes.

Since then, the second-floor room at the Hampton Inn – a two-bed unit that smells of fire smoke – has been home.

“I’m so ready. When you’re on vacation, hotels are a lot of fun. But not like this,” Dave said. “I’m blessed that we have a place to stay, but I can’t wait – especially for Kyle. He’s ready to get out of here. He’s ready to be back in his room.”

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Jacobs. It appears this story born out of tragedy will have a happy ending.

On Monday, Dave and Kyle learned that a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Escalon will be move-in ready no later than Wednesday.

The house will be handicap accessible and have new linoleum floors to better suit Kyle’s chairs.

Raymus Homes, Inc. property manager Lupe Graham said the Dave qualified for the rental -- he is Kyle’s full-time caretaker and compensated by the state – but also noted that the company received a glowing referral from Jack Mattos, the Jacobs’ landlord in Raymus Village.

“We’re just glad we had this rental available,” Graham said.

The Jacobs won’t have to start from scratch, either.

Complete strangers have rallied around Dave and Kyle, who moved into the Hampton Inn with nothing more than the bare essentials: few clothes, Kyle’s chair, lift and breathing machine, and medications.

On Saturday, they received a care package from the Modesto Red Cross. Blankets and toiletries were dropped off in the lobby of the Hampton Inn and a woman offered to give Dave and Kyle two couches.

Kyle’s medical staff at the UC Davis Medical Center extended the Jacobs’ stay at the Hampton Inn through Sunday, Dave said. Three separate entities have covered the lodging costs: the Red Cross, a member of the St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, and now the UC Davis Medical Center.

There was even an offer for a like-new hospital bed for Kyle, who lost his specialized bed, shower chair and backup chair in the blaze. The specialized hospital bed helps support his back, which has been surgically reinforced with titanium rods.

The Jacobs have yet to make contact, but the gesture alone nearly moved Dave to tears.

“It’s been a big outpouring of kindness, which I’ve just been overwhelmed by,” Dave said. “I’ve never experienced that. It’s amazed me giving this community is.”