Damage can be seen to the outside of the Lopez home that recently caught fire.

Fire victims remain strong

  • Aug. 23, 2010 8:44 p.m.

A Red Deer family who has lost everything in a recent fire continues to give back to their community despite the recent devastation.

The Lopez family had just recently been approved for a Habitat for Humanity home in Red Deer when the duplex they were renting unexpectedly caught fire and burnt down on July 25th.

No one was home at the time of the fire, which was caused by a toaster oven.

Neighbour Jerry Bear was the one who first noticed the blaze and quickly called 911. Bear said firefighters had to go into his attic and basement in order to put out the fire and his house still smelled of smoke a week later.

Father Israel Lopez, 40, moved to Red Deer from El Salvador five years ago and only a year and a half ago his wife Maria Vega, 35, and their three children Xenia, 16, Claudia, 14, and Israel, 10, came to Red Deer.

Cynthia de Boer, executive director for Habitat for Humanity in the Red Deer Region, says the habitat house for the family will not be ready for another two years, which leaves the Lopez family to scramble for a place to stay.

She also said that in order to be approved for a Habitat for Humanity home a family must be contributing members of society in their communities and have a family with children that respect their parents.

“The families that receive a habitat home are not a problem in their communities, they are just down on their luck,” said de Boer.

Families that are approved for a home must complete 500 hours of volunteer service with Habitat for Humanity in order to qualify and de Boer said she didn’t expect the Lopez family to come in to do their hours after such a disaster. But she said they showed up and were ready to serve the community.

“I was overwhelmed and it warmed my heart that they cared so much for others,” said de Boer. “Here they were still focused on the prize at a time of devastation, and we are very proud of them.”

The Lopez family were staying at a hotel in Red Deer but have recently found a temporary place to stay with the help from the Red Cross until the Red Deer Housing Authority can find them a new unit to rent.

Catholic Social Services are asking for anyone who wishes to help out the Lopez family to donate household items rather than cash. They can be contacted at 403-346-8818.

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