Last-Minute Gifts: Firefighters, police help Merced family after blaze hits home, presents

vpatton@mercedsun-star.comDecember 24, 2012 

— A family was displaced from their home Saturday afternoon after the Christmas tree caught on fire, the Merced Fire Department reported.

No one was hurt in the blaze. The incident was reported just before 2:30 p.m. in the 3700 block of Morning Glory Avenue, according to Battalion Chief Don Roe.

Although the family has temporarily lost their home, firefighters and police made sure the children's Christmas will be a little brighter by providing them with gifts.

Three adults and four children ages 3 to 7 were inside the two-story, single-family home when the fire happened.

Cal Fire-Merced County Fire Department investigator Josh Randol was in the area when the fire was reported. He responded and ensured no one was still inside the home, Roe said.

Firefighters responded and contained the blaze within 30 minutes. Roe said firefighters believe the cause of the fire was electrical, although it remains under investigation.

The Red Cross responded and assisted the family with temporary housing.

After the blaze, the Fire Department notified Merced police that the children had lost their Christmas gifts in the fire. Merced police were able to give the children new gifts from their annual toy drive.

The gifts were presented to parents Miguel Perez, 26 and Ashley Canal, 24, at the Merced Fire Department's Loughborough station Sunday morning. Perez said he's thankful for the presents, though the greatest gift was that his loved ones escaped safely from the fire.

Perez and Canal on Sunday thanked firefighters and police for their quick response. "I am happy for my kids being alive," Perez said.

Perez said he was Christmas shopping in Atwater when he received the call about a fire at his home. He said he was extremely relieved to discover that no one was hurt.

Sgt. Bobby Chapman said the children were able to have the new gifts thanks to the generosity of Merced residents. Police on Saturday gave presents to 1,200 children from 400 families at the department's south station.

Because residents were so giving, Chapman said, the department had enough gifts that it could help the children displaced by the fire.

"The community provided so well this year," Chapman said.

Perez said the home is insured, and his family expects to move back in after repairs are made. The fire caused $25,000 in damage to the structure and $15,000 in damage to its contents.

Three engines, one truck, one battalion chief, 13 firefighters and one

Cal Fire investigator responded to the scene.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

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