Family of five escapes Galt fire but loses everything

BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SENTINEL A home on Simmerhorn Road in Galt burnt down early Friday morning, displacing a family of five.

A Galt family awoke early Friday morning to find their home on fire, although they were able to escape with minimal harm.

According to Chief James Hendricks of the Herald Fire Protection District, the fire started in a mobile home on a vineyard in the area of Simmerhorn Road and Clay Station Road in Galt some time before 3:30 a.m. Friday.

“There were five people in the house at the time of the fire. They were all able to get out with one minor injury to one of them that we could see,” Hendricks said. “The house was a total loss.”

Firefighters worked for approximately four hours to get the fire under control, Hendricks said, although the cause is still under investigation.

Cynthia Mahoney, a neighbor of the family, said she looked out her window after hearing three loud booms and saw the red flashing lights of the approaching fire trucks before she saw the fire itself.

“I could see the flames coming up, I thought ‘oh my God, that’s the house,” Mahoney said.

After waking up her husband Dennis, Cynthia said the two ran outside in there robes and slippers as the firefighters arrived.

“It was pretty dramatic, it was total devastation,” Dennis, who stayed with the family until 6 a.m., said. “The whole trailer was engulfed, the flames were 20, 25 feet high.”

“The wind was blowing and we could see a lot of embers flying, so we woke our son up and he got up on the roof and started spraying our roof with a water hose,” Cynthia said. “Just to make sure none of those embers ignited anything.”

The family had five or six cars parked near their home, Dennis said, many of which exploded when the flames reached their gas tanks.

“My concern was they had a couple-hundred-gallon propane tank on the property,” Dennis said.

While the propane tank did not explode, Dennis said the family’s home was completely destroyed by the fire.

“They lost everything,” Dennis said. “It’s just terrible.”

Although she did not know the family personally, Cynthia said she knew several adults and several children lived in the double-wide mobile home.

“I know they all survived, thank God, but I’m not sure exactly where they all went,” Cynthia said.

Dennis was glad the family was able to escape the burning house, he said, and offered to help them replace anything they needed that was lost in the fire.

“Everything’s replaceable, but human lives really aren’t,” Dennis said.

Dennis Mahoney was not the only Galtonian to offer a helping hand.

Rachelle Herendeen, a State Farm insurance agent whose office is located in Galt, said she learned of the fire when her friend posted on a Facebook group asking for donations for the family.

“When she mentioned that she didn’t really have a place for people to drop off donations, of course I offered my office,” Herendeen said.

Several people dropped off clothing, dishes and other household items on Friday, although Herendeen said donations of cash, gift cards and gas cards would also help the family.

“I know from experience with the recent wildfires that sometimes they get a lot of duplicate items,” Herendeen said.

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