Family struggles after fire |

Family struggles after fire

Firefighters were able to save a man, two dogs, prescription medicines and an oxygen machine from a burning home on East Main Street, but little else survived.

Damages mounted in the hundreds of thousands of dollars after the fire sparked Wednesday afternoon and raged through four levels of the former Old California Restaurant, said Grass Valley Fire Chief Tony Clarabut.

City building inspectors declared the old Victorian unsafe to occupy. Much of the roof is missing; walls are charred and yellow caution tape encircles the building.

On Thursday morning, a neighbor was sifting through debris to salvage silverware for the family.

If the building isn’t a total loss, Clarabut said, it’s close.

“Most all of the contents have been damaged by fire or water,” he said.

Local Red Cross volunteers have been helping the four adults displaced by the fire. They did not want to comment on the incident.

“They’re still in shock,” said Lynda Groom of the Red Cross.

Two generations – including the couple that owned the restaurant before closing it down a few years ago – lived in the pink-and-turquoise house. While the building was insured, fire coverage was limited and the family isn’t sure it will cover their immediate needs.

In the meantime, the Red Cross is paying for three nights in a hotel and a small food and clothing allowance.

“It’s very little,” Groom said. “We tell them to go to Kmart so they can get more for their money.”

The family’s two dogs suffered from smoke inhalation and were kept overnight at a veterinarian’s office to guard against potential pneumonia, Groom said.

Wednesday’s call was especially difficult because fire spread to nooks and crannies all over the large wooden house. Eighty firefighters worked to battle the blaze – so many that Placer County fire personnel were called to staff the empty fire stations.

Grass Valley Fire’s brand new fire engine, equipped with a 105-foot ladder, came in handy, providing bright lights above the scene until crews cleared out around midnight.

Firefighters believe the flames started in a room on the side of the house, but a cause is still under investigation.

Family members are working on opening an account to raise funds for the family.

To contact Staff Writer Michelle Rindels, e-mail or call (530) 477-4247.

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