Family asks for help after fire |

Family asks for help after fire

“My house burned down and we lost everything and we’re having a really hard time,” said Andrew Van Dam, 34, of Grass Valley.

His wife, Rachelle Van Dam, 33, was at work the night of Jan. 9. Andrew and their 2-year-old son, Samuel, escaped the flames with their lives before dawn after a candle that had been left burning on a dresser tipped over, perhaps falling onto the floor, said the fire investigator in the case, Nevada County Consolidated Fire District Battalion Chief David Ray.

The Van Dams have rented a small house off Ridge Road and are trying to start over.

They need work. The family continues to pay a mortgage of nearly $3,000 monthly on the house that burned on Banner Lava Cap Road, which they had been planning to sell.

“I’ll do anything,” said Andrew Van Dam, who has worked seasonally as an asphalt paver in the past.

Rachelle Van Dam is a licensed vocational nurse and is halfway through her studies to become a registered nurse. She is on a registry for on-call jobs in the area, which worked well when their son was smaller. But she hasn’t had work since the fire, she said.

She has 10 years of experience working in emergency room and intensive care nursing, she said.

They need furniture. The insurance company ordered a house-full of rented furniture from a Roseville company that charges $700 monthly for the service. The Van Dams pay a part of that. To replace the rented items, they need beds, dressers, a couch, a kitchen table and chairs, and a refrigerator.

They also need blankets, towels and queen-sized sheets.

“We’ve been kind of overwhelmed,” said Rachelle Van Dam.

The local branch of the American Red Cross helps people immediately after a disaster to get them back on their feet, but do not provide long-term help, emergency services coordinator Ned Russell said.

Here are the personal items the Van Dams need:

Samuel Van Dam

Samuel wears size 2T clothes, size 6-1/2 to 7 shoes and is growing. He needs a coat.

He lost all his Christmas toys and December birthday toys in the fire, but what the family misses most are his books. “He had hundreds of little books,” Rachelle Van Dam said.

He has daycare through an aunt, so his parents can be available for work.

Rachelle Van Dam

Rachelle needs scrubs, work shoes and a coat. She wears size 7 to 9 clothes and size 8 shoes.

Andrew Van Dam

Andrew wears size 33-30 pants, medium to large shirts and size 10 shoes. He needs a coat.


To contact staff writer Trina Kleist, e-mail or call 477-4231.

• If you have clothes, furniture or employment leads for the Van Dams, call them at 274-8636.

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