JEROME – A fire that broke out in Jerome on Tuesday afternoon has devastated some in that small community, none more than the nine families who lost their homes. The fire started in a business on the first floor of a building. It quickly spread to the apartments on the floors above.
Wednesday afternoon, with the flames out, firefighters began the process of cleaning up the massive mess that shut down Main Street. But the city is not shut down and many are stepping up to help not only those who lost their home, but those who helped keep the fire from spreading.
Tuesday night, looking through the smoke and water, you could see the bright glow of flames that shot into the air. Firefighters from all over the Magic Valley responded to keep the fire from spreading to other buildings that are more than a century old.
"Everything here in Jerome is still the original buildings and it's really sad to lose them," said Liz Batcha, a resident of Jerome for the past 16 years who watched the fire destroy history.
Across the street from this burned out building is the El Sombrero Restaurant. A year ago the owner Rosa Piaz lost her son and started an organization called Angels of Mercy for JD, it helps Mexican people.
"That's what we had last night, a bunch of Mexican people that needed our help, so we helped them out," said Piaz.
So she opened her restaurant to the nine families, 40 or so people, fed them some food and gave them a place to stay. On Wednesday, she was back in the kitchen looking to help.
"Today we help the fire department because the fire department helped us out. So we've got to help the community, keep the community together," said Piaz.
Across town at the Jerome Fair Grounds, the Red Cross set up a temporary shelter. Tuesday night 16 people slept there, Wednesday night that number will jump to 26.
"We do what we can to help them through the initial stages," said Weston McCarron.
The Salvation Army is just one of several organizations that is feeding those who now only have the clothes on their backs.
"It's really sad. I feel really sad for them," said Charity Wight.
That's why Charity decided to donate what she has to those who don't, an action that lives up to her namesake.
"If I were in that situation, I’d hope that people would help me too. I mean I don't think they have anything, so it only seemed right," said Charity.
An excavator has already begun the process of tearing down the walls of the building since it was a complete loss.
The Jerome fire chief says they know where the fire started, but how it started is still under investigation. We are told that the fire does not appear to be suspicious.
For those wanting to donate items such as clothing, furniture and household items to help the families, the Idaho Youth Ranch and the Deseret Industries will take those donations on their behalf.