A single mother of two has lost everything. On Wednesday night, Stephanie Rodriguez’s apartment in the 400 block of 14th Street in Grover Beach caught on fire.
“We thought we would all burn because the kids couldn’t get downstairs and I have trouble walking,” said Sandra del Rio Tapia, Stephanie’s mom. “No, I didn’t think we would get out alive.”
Stephanie’s mom was home alone with her grandchildren on July 4th.
“It started in the other apartment first,” explained Stephanie. “And no one was home in the other one. So my mom was watching TV with the kids and didn’t know what was happening.”
“We were lighting fireworks and we looked over and saw the apartment was on fire,” said one neighbor, Paul Miller. “We ran to an apartment and made sure no one was in there. We started knocking on the rest of the doors to help the one that was on fire.”
With the help of their neighbors, the family was able to get out safely. But they say everything else burned down.
“I have my family you know. For me it’s the most important thing that they’re here,” said Stephanie.
She’s now staying at her brother’s house while they find another place to stay. But over the last two days, the family has already received lots of support from the Grover Beach community.
“I’m happy because people are donating stuff, especially clothes for the kids and some food,” said Sandra.
A friend has also set up a GoFundMe account for the family. People on Central Coast community Facebook groups are trying to lend a hand, too.
The family suspects the flames were caused by fireworks. But on Friday, fire officials said the cause of the incident is still under investigation.