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Family of 6 loses home in blaze

Her face spotted with soot, Mai See Chang had the uncertain look one gets when a fire destroys all one's belongings and leaves you without a home. But her husband and four young children weren't hurt Wednesday afternoon in a fire that razed her duplex at 1342 Frankfort Court in North Merced.

"My stuff, everything is gone but we're not hurt and that's good," Chang said, after the 2:54 p.m. fire destroyed a rear bedroom and caused heavy smoke and heat damage throughout the unit.

Acting Battalion Chief Don Long of the Merced City Fire Department said no one was hurt in the blaze that did $70,000 damage to the structure and $10,000 to its contents.

Twelve firefighters in three engines responded to the fire. Fire singed the doorway to the unit and a rear room was reduced to ashes in the fire, which remains under investigation. Long said the cause's origin is undetermined but not suspicious.

Chang wasn't sure where she, her husband, Yang Vang, and her 1-year-old, 3-year-old and 7-month-old twins, would stay but thought it might be either with her or her husband's parents.

Long said Vang and the older children were watching television in the living room when the smoke alarm went off and fire was noticed in a bedroom.

Anne Bright, disaster services representative for the Merced-Madera American Red Cross office, was on scene assisting Chang's family with their loss and her neighbors. The adjoining duplex did not sustain serious damage in the fire but city building officials also posted it as uninhabitable until gas and electric utilities can be restored to that half of the duplex. A man and woman who lived there were helped by the Red Cross.

"I have no milk, no clothes and no diapers. I don't know; I'm so depressed," Chang said. Her husband was home with the two older children while Chang was at her mother's house when the fire broke out.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or