A father and son say they’re grateful to be alive after a fire destroyed their Galt home, killed three pets and charred nearly every one of their belongings early Tuesday morning.
“These feelings are unexplainable,” said Jose Luis Balderas Montiel, standing atop the rubble inside a garage where crews believe the fire originated.
The potent smell of smoke woke Montiel around 11:30 p.m., he said. He could hear a strange noise coming from somewhere inside the house on the 400 block of Sunset Drive, so he went to the kitchen, worried that the stove had set something on fire.
In the kitchen, he could see smoke billowing through the cracks in the door that led to the garage. He tried to yank it open, but it wouldn’t budge.
Balderas Montiel ran to his father’s bedroom. He banged on the door, and yelled that the garage was on fire.
Balderas Montiel found a way outside, with his father not far behind.
Fire crews from the Cosumnes Community Services District soon arrived.
“I saw the flames,” Montiel said. “In that moment, I felt scared because I remembered I left our three pets in the house.”
The family’s two cats, Minina and Nismo, and their dog, Robotina, weren’t able to escape the fire.
Two cars in the driveway and one in the garage were destroyed. A motorcycle was turned to ash. The fire spread through the garage and attic and into the living room, said Cosumnes Fire Chief Tracey Hansen.
A firefighter sustained minor injuries when a portion of the roof collapsed, but he was treated on scene and returned to work later that morning.
Hansen said the damage is estimated to be at least $100,000. On Tuesday, investigators tried to determine the cause of the fire. They believe it originated from the water heater in the garage, but the damage was so severe that they didn’t know for sure.
The family said the entire one-story house will need to be torn down and rebuilt.
“We’re going to have to start over,” said Sara Montiel, Balderas Montiel’s mother.
Balderas Montiel, his father, Jose Luis Balderas Guil, and his sister, who wasn’t home the night of the fire, say they’re not sure where they will live.
But for now, the family is just glad they made it out.
“It’s not the same seeing it on TV as seeing it in real life,” Balderas Montiel said. “I feel fortunate we made it out.”
Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.