Michelli Rodriguez stepped outside from the charred remains of her parents’ Homestead Avenue house Wednesday, the morning after a fire destroyed the family home.
Rodriguez maintained an optimistic and thankful tone as she talked about the fire and the bystanders who helped alert her parents about it while they were inside the home. A man walking by noticed flames shooting from the roof and attic space, and helped the parents get out before it was too late.
“My mom said they were just sitting down having dinner and they just heard somebody knocking on the door pretty hard,” said Rodriguez, who is now married and living elsewhere in Hollister, away from her parents’ home.
She mentioned how the neighborhood mailman was also going door to door letting people know about the fire and potential dangers of it spreading.
“It was pretty bad where we were worried it was going to get around to the other houses,” Rodriguez said.
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As Rodriguez recollected what happened, she also realized her parents and three siblings will have to start over in a new home, with the Homestead Avenue house largely destroyed. Since the fire had just occurred the night before, she remained uncertain how they will rebuild their lives to go with assurances that the home’s insurance will cover a new house.
“I mean, as of right now, it’s clothing,” Rodriguez said. “We’re able to take out some right now. We’re going to go to the laundry room and probably try to wash some out. Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve been telling people anything will be helpful.”
She noted how the family slept in her apartment Tuesday night with some sleeping on a floor with air mattresses and other cushions. She noted how it was particularly sad because her parents had realized the dream of owning the Homestead Avenue home.
“Eventually, hopefully, we will be able to get a house,” she said. “I don’t know if insurance will provide a bed. It’s something new for us.”
Rodriguez was thankful to the community for its response, starting with the bystander and mailman who alerted the neighborhood and extending to neighbors offering help, a GoFundMe page started to collect donations, and the local chapter of the American Red Cross immediately responding to assist. She was amazed how Hollister firefighters helped the family remove items from the home after extinguishing the flames. And she was looking ahead to a service Wednesday night at the church where her father is a pastor — Iglecia De Jesuscristo Camino De Santidad on East Street in downtown Hollister — for comfort.
The family also found comfort just two doors down at the home of Vince and Mickie Luna, the local councilwoman in the westside district the past four years, and incoming Supervisor Peter Hernandez also reached out offering help.
“The American Red Cross made their headquarters here,” Mickie Luna said from her home Wednesday. It was so crowded in the Luna home, she said, “you could hardly walk in here.”
Luna called the Silvas, Rodriguez’s parents, “such good neighbors.”
“It was nice to see all the neighborhood come together,” Luna said. “Because of all the fires everywhere, that’s on everybody’s mind.”
Luna added one piece of advice for future emergencies like the one on Homestead Avenue, a small block of single-family residences not far from the high school.
“If there’s a fire, stay away if you don’t live in the area,” she said of gawkers. “They wanted to park in front of our house. I was in the middle of the street directing traffic and I was telling them, ‘Get out. Get out,’ she said. “I wish people would understand.”
A GoFundMe page has been started here to help the Silva family’s recovery, with $640 raised as of 4 p.m. Wednesday. To contact the American Red Cross to help out, call (831) 636-2100.