Joanna and Juan Ruiz were at a family reunion in Lathrop on Saturday night when Juan got a phone call that would change their lives.
It was a neighbor who called him and said their house just off Lower Sacramento near Century Boulevard was destroyed.
They’re lucky that Juan Ruiz’s sister lived across the street, so they were staying there on Sunday. The American Red Cross, which responds to disasters like structure fires, are allowing the Ruizes and their 5-year-old son to stay in a motel for three days, Joanna said. The Red Cross also gave them a credit card so they can buy some clothes and blankets, she added.
Lodi and Woodbridge firefighters were called to the older rented house at 8:16 p.m. Saturday. Firefighters got the flames under control within 20 minutes, but smoke continued to billow into the sky until after 9 p.m. There was heavy damage to the roof, attic and interior of the home.
“Everything was pretty much burned,” Joanna Ruiz said Sunday afternoon in front of her sister-in-law’s house. “We don’t even have insurance.”
Lodi police closed the section off Lower Sacramento Road to traffic for more than an hour.
Next door neighbors Joyce and Earlene Manus were at home when the fire started. A passing motorist stopped to knock on their door and tell them to get outside. They reported seeing flames engulf the front end of the home.
There was so much damage to the house that firefighters may never determine what caused the blaze, Lodi Fire Battalion Chief Ron Penix said.
Live wires were down on an electrical pole next to the home. Workers from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. were there to address the damage.
Not only do the Ruizes have a 5-year-old son, they have a baby on the way.
“I almost fainted and had shakes,” Joanna Ruiz said Sunday as she shed some tears. “We’re looking for a place right now.”
News-Sentinel staff writer Sara Jane Pohlman contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.