As many as 30 Lockeford residents were displaced and lost everything after the Locke Haven Apartment complex fire Wednesday night, and the entire community has come together to help them get back on their feet.
Donations of food, clothing, appliances and supplies have been pouring in to different locations around the town after residents and business owners held a community meeting Thursday to pledge their continued support.
“This is our community, and we love our community,” Genola Scott, owner of Country Clippers pet groomers, said Friday afternoon. “This community supports our business, so it’s our responsibility to step up for the community now.”
Scott’s business and RSQ209, a volunteer organization from Valley Springs that focuses on animal welfare and protection, have spent the last two days “trapping” and rescuing pets displaced from the fire that destroyed the Locke Haven complex.
As of Friday, Country Clippers had recovered five animals, and was accepting a variety of supplies that includes pet food, kitty litter, potty pads, blankets and pens.
“People were breaking windows at the complex, and animals just came pouring out of some of them,” Scott said. “We’re housing the ones we find or that are brought to us here for reunification, or until their families can find a new permanent place to stay.”
One of the animals Scott is housing is a cat named Spot, which jumped out of his owner’s arms when he was spooked by an explosion as they tried to evacuate.
Scott said the cat ran back inside the apartment, and the owner thought he had perished in the fire. At 1 a.m. Thursday morning, a firefighter found the cat hiding in the one section of the complex that hadn’t been destroyed by flames.
Pam and Cora Schweitzer brought a trunkload of animal supplies to the salon, including litter, food for cats and dogs, as well as training pads.
They said it was important to not only help the human victims of the fire, but the animals who fled for safety and are searching for their families.
“We felt we could help the silent victims through this,” Pam Schweitzer said. “For the families who lost everything, at least we can help reunite them with their pets. This happened so fast, we thought this was something we could do to help.”
Firefighters from nine agencies responded to the blaze that broke out just before 8:30 p.m. at 13414 Laird St. All 14 units were evacuated, and 10 people were treated for injuries.
Crews had the fire under control in about two hours, but remained on scene until 4 a.m. Thursday.
Mokelumne Rural Fire District Captain Rob Firman thanked residents and volunteers in a post on the Lockeford Crime Prevention! Facebook page Friday afternoon.
He said the residents’ split second decisions and self sacrifice helped save several lives.
“This fire was the most destructive fire in the town of Lockeford that I know of,” he posted. “It could have been 1,000 times worse if bystanders did not stop and help the residents escape their burning homes.
“To the families that lost everything I am so sorry for your loss,” he added. “It is a breath of fresh air that so many people are willing to donate money, clothing and a place for their animals. It is truly communities coming together to help families in need. It’s a beginning to help them put their lives back together.”
Scott was also collecting clothing and supplies for the human victims of the fire in collaboration with the Lockeford Liberators Roller Derby team.
However, direct donations are being accepted at the Tuscan Wine Village, where the Liberators practice and play, located at 12470 Locke Road.
Gift cards and monetary donations are being accepted at Donkey J’s, located at 18966 N. Highway 88.
Country Clippers is located at 18680 N. Highway 88.
“In the town of Lockeford, everybody loves each other,” Scott said. “We’re going to continue supporting each other. This won’t end next week, or next month. We’re committed to seeing all this through.”