Community rallies behind fire victims

FORT IRWIN, Calif. — The Fort Irwin community has reached out to support three residents whose mobile homes were destroyed in a fire inside the RV park on post on July 20. The three affected include a captain on the Tarantula Operations Group team, as well as a married couple. Two recreational vehicles were destroyed in the fire, as well as another car and a truck. Two dogs that belonged to the married couple were inside one RV when the fire started and those pets died in the flames.

The Fort Irwin community immediately jumped into action to help the three victims, offering everything from meals and kitchenware, to clothes and shoes for the victims.
One of those affected is a woman who works at the Weed Army Community Hospital (WACH), so there were also nursing scrubs and a military uniform that were donated.

“Praying for the families,” Joanne Kim, said. “The Fort Irwin community loves you!”

Amelia Small said, “I am so sorry for your losses, please continue to let your community help!”

Chaplain Dustin Boyd and his wife, Jade, have been helping collect donations and Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Richard Brown established a account for those who wanted to contribute money to help the victims. In less than a week, he estimates the community has contributed nearly $4,000 in both monetary and in-kind donations.

That does not include donations such as a trailer and the donated military uniform and boots. The couple also received a complimentary pet cremation and urns, along with a memento for their deceased pets.

“We were getting assistance from as far away as Bakersfield, as the Army Cadets of Bakersfield did an assistance drive for the victims,” Brown said.

All the victims have temporary housing and the Villages have also offered permanent housing if needed.

The cause of the fire is being investigated but initial reports say it was started inside the motorhome when a propane-powered refrigerator malfunctioned.

Witnesses say they, “Had about 30 seconds from the recognition of the fire, to being able to get out of the motorhome,” Brown said. “It went up hot and fast and he was fortunate to get out with the clothes on his back.”

Chaplain Brown says he thinks the Fort Irwin Community is the best there is.

“We in the military are tight and care for one another but I have never experienced a community like Fort Irwin,” he said. “I don’t know if it is the distance from an outside community or what it is, but whatever it is, it causes us to look inside and rally around one another in a way you don’t really even see in overseas duty stations.  Strangers became friends and all that mattered was the love of the fire victims and the desire to help.”

If you would like to donate, the GoFundMe page established by Brown is under “Fort Irwin RV Fire” and you can also visit the Religious Support Office. Clothing sizes are as follows:

For female adult victim: Scrubs: XL; Pants: size 20; Shirts: XL; Shoes 8 1/2

For male: Pants: 40×30; Shirts: XL; Shoes: 9.

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