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Fire destroys shack, residents' belongings
Two friends living in a tiny shack near the Tule River in East Porterville lost nearly everything they owned in a fire Tuesday.
Firefighters responded to the incident at 12:03 p.m. in the 1500 block of East Success Drive.
The Tulare County Fire Department said the 10-foot-by-30-foot outbuilding was a total loss and estimated the damage at $1,000, including contents.
The American Red Cross was called to assist the two women who were staying in the building, said Mike Green, battalion chief with the Tulare County Fire Department.
One of the occupants, Marilyn Hastings, said she didn’t know how the fire started because there was no candles, no heaters and no electricity.
Her friend sat in a scruffy recliner among piles of rubbish and watched in grief as firefighters doused the structure she had called home for roughly one year.
According to Hastings, the pair had been renting the tiny hut for $50 a month from the property owner. Neighbors in the area, including the owner, quickly ran to the women’s aide and watched fire personnel work on the charred structure.
Though the incident occurred across the street from Tulare County Fire Station 20, flames consumed the building before firefighters could salvage it. The only contents that were retrieved were a couple of suitcases with Hastings’ pictures, as well as her bicycle.
“Everything I own, everything, is in there,” Hastings’ friends said as she wiped off tears. “My bed and blankets, my clothes, my family Bible, my kids’ pictures.”
An adjacent outbuilding was also damaged by the blaze, Green said.
An environmental health officer with Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency was called to assist on the call. Tammie Weyker, spokesperson with the county’s environmental health division, said there was not a situation where the officer was needed.
One battalion chief, one water tender, and four fire engines, three with the county and one with the Porterville Fire Department, responded to the incident
As of Tuesday afternoon, the cause of the fire was undetermined.
Contact Denise Madrid at 784-5000, Ext. 1047. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseMadrid_.