DUCHESNE — Fundraising efforts are under way at Duchesne High School after two students and their parents lost nearly all their belongings in a house fire.
The fire started about 4 p.m. Monday at a home in the Duchesne Mini Ranches subdivision east of Duchesne. Roland Garcia, who has rented the home for about a year, spotted smoke billowing from around the chimney as he was leaving to pick up his 12-year-old daughter, according to his wife.
"He's like, 'Call 911," Liliana Garcia said. "We called them right away. I mean, as soon as he saw smoke, I was on the phone."
Firefighters were already battling one house fire in Duchesne when the Garcias called to report the fire at their house, said Duchesne County Fire and Emergency Management Director Mike Lefler.
The first blaze began about noon in the attic of a home at 159 W. 200 South, according to fire officials. No one was injured, but the house is uninhabitable. The homeowners have insurance and are staying with relatives.
We did not have the rental insurance. You never think about that, and now we have nothing.
The cause of the first fire is still under investigation, Lefler said.
Because firefighters in Duchesne were already working on one fire, crews from the Altamont, Duchesne, Fruitland and Myton fire departments responded to the Garcias' home to extinguish the blaze there.
The family spent Tuesday sifting through the remains of their gutted home.
"We did not have the rental insurance," Liliana Garcia said. "You never think about that, and now we have nothing."
Melted Christmas ornaments and water-damaged presents lay on soggy carpet between scattered pieces of charred wood and blackened insulation in the home's main room. A wilted wreath and two singed stockings still hung from hooks on the walls.
Garcia said the fire hit the family at a particularly difficult time. Her husband was recently laid off.
"He's going to get unemployment," she said, "but we haven't even got the money from there, so we have nothing."
Word of the family's loss spread quickly Tuesday at Duchesne High School, where the Garcias' son is a freshman and their daughter is a seventh-grader.
"A lot of clubs and sports teams are coming together to get clothes and money," said Brady Moon, the school's student body president.
"The student body and faculty here are trying to get money so (the Garcias) have a home to live in for a while," he said.
By noon, Duchesne High Principal Stan Young said he'd already been in touch with several real estate agents in the area to see if they might have a home the Garcias could move into.
Funds raised by the school's students and faculty would go to cover rent for a couple months, Young said, and to help the family purchase clothes and household items.
Garcia, who said her family's nearest relatives live in California, is grateful for the high school's offer of help. She asked for only one other thing — people's prayers.
"Hopefully my husband can get a job," she said, "and (we can) get things going again."
Anyone interested in helping the Garcia family can contact Duchesne High School at 435-738-1260.