Fire destroys family home of Gustine High grad who died of cancer

Vince Ybarra Image
Tuesday, July 9, 2024
Fire destroys family home of Gustine teen who died of cancer
A family is dealing with a second tragedy after they lost their home in a fire just months after their son passed away after a battle with cancer.

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A heartbroken family lost their home in a fire over the weekend, just months after their son passed away after a battle with cancer.

Merced County fire officials say they were called to Mercury Street near Comet Road in Santa Nella, where the fire spread to nearby homes.

The fire left more than a dozen people without a place to stay.

Neighbors say the fire also left them without power or gas.

"I'm managing because I borrowed a generator from a friend, I'm barely getting by, but I know there's other elderly people that need machines and everything," said Nichols.

PG&E says they were able to restore gas to the community by Monday afternoon. At least a dozen people are still without power.

The Ortiz Family are among those impacted by the fire, it's the second tragedy to hit them in just months.

Alondra Ortiz says her brother Brian passed away on May 15th after his battle with cancer.

"I remember being in the hospital bed with him and he told me that, I'm gonna leave you with the mission, and the mission is don't ever leave my parents alone, take care of my parents," said Alondra.

Back in April, Gustine High School held a special early graduation ceremony for Brian, just in case he didn't make it to the end of the school year. He died weeks later.

The cap and gown Brian wore, along with decades worth of other memories are now gone.

"It's so sad just having to come back every single time, hoping that it's just a nightmare, hoping that we're just gonna wake up," said Alondra.

Because of the overwhelming costs of medical bills for her brother's cancer treatment, her parents couldn't afford their home insurance.

Ortiz says her mother and father are overburdened with the loss of their son and now their home.

"I feel him right now, he's telling me 'Don't give up, just keep going. Don't let all these obstacles get in the way of you,'" said Alondra.

The family has set up a donation page to help them during this heartbreaking time.

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