Jerome apartment fire victim returns to the rubble

Credit: Mike di Donato/ KTVB

Jerome apartment fire victim returns to the rubble

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by Jamie Grey

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBJamieGrey

KTVB.COM

Posted on May 9, 2013 at 9:58 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 5:22 PM

JEROME -- Now a little over a week since a fire ripped through a downtown Jerome apartment building, dozens of victims are trying to pick up the pieces and find new homes.

Last Tuesday night, a fire ripped through a downtown building on Main Street and displaced more than a dozen families and at least 35 people.

On Thursday, KTVB met up with Carol Guzman, an elementary school computer lab teacher, as she went back to the apartment for the first time since the fire.

"It's hard. It's hard because I've been working for the last two years and all my effort ... is there," Guzman said pointing to her apartment.

Guzman and the others are still not allowed inside, but she wanted to look through the parking lot, in hopes of finding her most precious possession.

"I lost my mother's ring, and it was in my bedroom. And I found a lot of stuff that was in my bedroom down this way [in the lot], so we were hoping we could probably find it," Guzman said. "It's mostly sentimental value to me. It might not be worth a whole lot to anybody else, but to me it was."

Like many others, left only with the clothes on her back, Guzman has been staying in a hotel and getting help from the Red Cross. She's also had help from her school children and other teachers who had a 'hat day' last week, allowing kids to wear hats to school if they paid $1.

"They raised over $300 for me," Guzman said.   

Guzman has put down a deposit on a new rental nearby and plans to move in very soon. She isn't sure when or if she'll be allowed to search for her belongings inside before the building is demolished, she says starting as soon as next week.

The Red Cross says at this point, most people are getting what they need in terms of donations.

"We were getting donations so fast there at the shelter that we couldn't keep up with it," Weston McCarron, with the American Red Cross in Twin Falls, said.
   
Since the fire, the whole community has given generously Guzman and other families, leaving donations at businesses, city hall, and the fire station.

"They took donations through the weekend, and we brought in the families on Sunday afternoon and gave out some stuff, and then last night they came in again and got some more," McCarron said.

McCarron says the community has also raised more than $5,000 in cash to share with all of the families. Additionally, businesses have donated gift cards and meals, including McDonald's, Chic-fil-A, Stinker, Maverick, and Pizza Hut.
 

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