Retired Merced County supervisor recovering from burns after fire destroys home

Tuesday, January 3, 2017
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Family of former Merced County supervisor Deidre Kelsey said she is still at Community Regional Medical Center recovering from first and some second-degree burns.

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- The family of former Merced County supervisor Deidre Kelsey said she'd still at Community Regional Medical Center recovering from first and second-degree burns.

The Merced County Fire Department said they do not yet know what started the fire. Kelsey is expected to be at the hospital for another couple of weeks for her injuries.

However, her family said the home had been in the family for generations and the pain of losing the memories is what will be the hardest to overcome.

"Cal Fire around 7:15 in the morning, New Year's Day," Merced County supervisor Darron McDaniels recalled. "It's not a call you expect to get."

McDaniels remembers the exact moment he received the devastating call about his former colleague, Deidre Kelsey, barely escaping a fire at her home.

"As soon as you get that, your heart goes out to her family," he said. "That's a generational home with a lot of stuff in it. You feel for that."

Kelsey started the New Year, and her retirement, with tragedy. Debris was still smoldering hours after the fire destroyed her home. Fire officials say it started around 4 a.m. at her home. Family members say Kelsey escaped from the top of the home. She then drove herself to the Merced County Fire Department in Snelling.

The department is still trying to figure out what caused the home to go up in flames.

"The fire is currently under investigation," Capt. Josh Randol with the Merced County Fire Department. "It's been extinguished and fire investigators are going through trying to determine what the cause is."

Kelsey was a longtime supervisor for Merced County. Her former colleagues say they couldn't believe what had happened.

"I am surprised," former District 2 supervisor Hub Walsh said. "When I heard about the extent of the fire, I was pleased to hear there were no other losses there and she had gotten away."

Family members say the physical recovery will be hard but coming to terms with the loss of the home will be harder. However, her colleagues say she'll push through.

"I know she's going to rebound and be very good at it," McDaniels said.