Fresno police officer helps family that lost home in house fire

Fresno firefighters were able to put out the blaze.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno Police officer returned to the scene of a crime -- to help a family in need -- when a suspect torched his sister's apartment.

Twenty-seven-year-old Mayra Varela's worked hard to give to her family has been reduced to burnt rubble.

"I have a 3-year-old. I'm the head of the house. l do everything I can, I work overtime to see them smile," Valera said.

Authorities said Valera's own brother, Gerardo Varela, started the fire Sunday night while trying to escape police.

He was wanted in connection with a robbery the night before where a suspect pulled a gun on two other men, hit them with the pistol, and then took their money.

One of the officers on the call was Sgt. Stacie Szatmari.

"The fire broke out and afterwards, we had this family that was homeless. It's hard to see a family go through this," Szatmari

Sgt. Szatmari decided to help. She gathered toiletries and later, went to the store to buy them new clothes and shoes.

"It was like Christmas Day. She was bringing Christmas gifts. Some stranger just said, 'Here's everything you need for your family now.'" Varela said.

Szatmari also reached out to their chaplaincy to get the family a room for the night, and since has reached out to the Red Cross to get them more long term housing.

"That's the way I was raised. If someone is in need, I need to help out," Szatmari said.

Varela says she's thankful for Stazmari and her help in getting her family through this loss and on the road to recovery

A GoFundMe has been set up for the family.
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