■ By Halima Haider / Reporter
Having won an award for the best Christmas light display in the neighborhood just last month, the loving Martin residence in the 3600 block of W. Sydney St. in Hemet caught fire Friday morning, displacing eight children, three adults and several dogs. The fire erupted in the garage, engulfing it in its entirety and destroying it, rendering the home unlivable. Damages included several hundred dollars of exotic fish.
“Funny part is that I didn’t realize it was our house because I wasn’t at home,” said Kristy Martin, as she recounted the traumatic scene of the fire with The Valley Chronicle. “I took the long way driving that day from Stater Bros. thinking a neighbor’s house was on fire, and tried to make sure that someone had called 911. When I literally got to the corner of my house, my friend Liz, who lives with us, called saying it was our house. She said everyone was out in the street, and that someone had to run in the backyard to rescue one of our dogs. Thankfully the rest of the dogs were okay. It was insane.”
According to a report by Riverside County News Source, first responders replied to an onslaught of calls made by neighbors and those at the blazing house. The Hemet Fire Department was first dispatched to the scene around 10:50 a.m. and immediately called on additional resources to arrive to the scene, including four City of Hemet engine companies, the Red Cross, the fire department’s Truck One, a paramedic squad, a battalion commander, and the State of California’s OES Engine 352.
“When Red Cross officials asked me when my kids’ birthdays were, I totally went blank,” said Martin, remembering the horror at the scene of the Jan. 06 inferno. “I was in utter shock. I couldn’t even remember my husband’s birthday. We had actually set out to celebrating two of my sons, Joseph and William’s, birthday this month, but we definitely have to put that off for a while.”
Additionally, Southern California Edison and the Southern California Gas Company were summoned to the scene to assist in turning off all utilities to the house to ensure the safety of firefighters.
“Thankfully, an aggressive initial attack action by our firefighters confined the fire to the garage,” said Hemet Fire Chief Scott Brown in a statement. “Our firefighters executed a ‘good stop’ showing command leadership by keeping the fire from spreading to the house.”
City of Hemet Building Inspectors were also called to the scene after the fire was extinguished to determine if the residence was still safe to live in –– and it was red-tagged. The Martin’s reportedly found a new house closer to their kids’ school.
Officials confirmed that neighboring structures and homes did not suffer any damage from the fire. No injuries were reported in association with the fire, the cause of which is still under investigation.