Five families displaced by San Martin fire

Crews responded to a multiple-structure fire on the 1400 block of Murphy Avenue Sunday, Aug. 7. 

Thirteen San Martin residents—including six children—are looking for a place to live after a fire ravaged several mobile homes, vehicles and greenhouses Sunday afternoon, according to authorities.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross is already working with the displaced residents to provide for their basic living necessities in the aftermath of the blaze, and direct them to resources to help them find new homes.

CalFire communications received a call reporting a vegetation fire on the 1400 block of Murphy Avenue about 4:30 p.m. Aug. 7. By the time crews arrived, the fire had already spread to numerous structures and vehicles on the property, according to CalFire Fire Prevention Specialist Pam Temmermand.

“When we got there, it was changed to a structure fire, and about four acres of grass (was on fire),” Temmermand said.

At least three mobile homes were destroyed by the blaze, as were several greenhouses that surrounded the homes, Temmermand said. Numerous cars were “destroyed or damaged.”

Motorists and residents throughout South County reported seeing the plume of black smoke rising from the scene of the fire throughout the early evening Sunday.

While crews were fighting the fire, they learned a gasoline tank was venting on the property and directed PG&E to shut it down before causing even more damage.

Crews from CalFire, South Santa Clara County Fire District, Morgan Hill Fire, San Jose Fire and Gilroy Fire responded. Hand crews and a helicopter helped control and extinguish the flames, Temmermand said.

Firefighters and equipment were able to extinguish the fire before dark Sunday, but remained on the scene until past midnight for “mopping up,” Temmermand added.

“Crews were still out there this morning, going through the area and keeping an eye on things,” she said Monday.

No injuries or deaths were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Shortly after the initial firefighters arrived on the scene at Murphy Avenue, a Disaster Action Team from the Silicon Valley chapter of the American Red Cross showed up to help those suddenly left homeless. The disaster assistance agency received a call from fire agencies alerting them to the “multi-family fire,” said Sharon Jones of the Northern California Coastal Region of the American Red Cross said.

A total of five families—consisting of seven adults and six children—who occupied two of the residential units destroyed by the Aug. 7 fire were able to gain assistance, which included funds for short-term housing, food and clothing needs, Jones explained. The families also received “comfort kits” containing basic hygiene products as well as blankets.

“They are invited to sit down with client caseworkers, and go over what resources we have to help them find a place (to live or stay),” Jones said. She added that Red Cross can also direct the clients to other organizations it partners with, as well as the 211 telephone resource center operated by United Way.
Locals want to help

While the Red Cross can only accept monetary donations (as opposed to in-kind contributions such as clothing or food), some locals have already started an effort to gather items the five displaced families might need.

Cecelia Ponzini, director of nonprofit Cecelia’s Closet and Food Pantry said if she can identify and get in touch with the families, she will open her donation and distribution center at 35 Peebles Ave. for them, any time they are available. At Cecelia’s Closet, those affected by the fire can pick up donated clothing and food at no cost.

The families or anybody who has their contact information can contact Ponzini at (408) 670-0266.

“I have what they need; I just need to let them know,” Ponzini said.

Of particular need for the children are clothing and school supplies, according to Dan Keith of Rocca’s Market in San Martin. Keith and his neighbors have been trying to get in touch with the families affected by the fire to let them know that they can pick up donated items at Rocca’s store, located at 13335 Monterey Road. Anyone who wants to donate items can drop them off at the store.

“They can also come by and get a donation of food here,” Keith added.

Monetary donations to the Red Cross can be made online at redcross.org/donate/, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999.
“We always let them know, (the assistance) is a gift from people who make donations,” Jones said.

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