Basalt family receives outpouring of support after losing everything in house fire
The Aspen Times
HOW TO HELP
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help the Garcia family, which lost their home and all possessions in a fire in Basalt Saturday night. The web page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/ and then search for The Garcia Family Emergency Fund.
Estela Garcia Lopez was settled into the front row at The Temporary on Saturday evening preparing to watch Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s Folklorico program when she noticed her cellphone was blowing up.
It was supposed to be a special night for Estela and her husband, Martin Garcia, because Estela is typically working at the concession stand at Folklorico events. But Saturday she was in position to finally relax and watch her two children perform dances.
The sheer number of telephone calls she missed forced her to return a call from neighbor before the dancing began.
“They said, ‘Estela, where are you? Your house is burning,’” she recalled from the house of a friend Wednesday.
The Garcias rushed to Homestead Park in Basalt and found their house of 13 years in flames.
“I was in shock. My house was on fire,” Estela said. “We lost everything.”
Added Martin: “When you leave the house, you only take the clothes you are wearing and your keys.”
The contents that did not burn were destroyed by smoke and water. The family didn’t have insurance on the mobile home because of its age. They had been exploring getting insurance on their possessions but hadn’t acted yet.
The Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Department determined the fire started in a utility room where the furnace was located. The fire was ruled accidental.
The couple’s children were dancing with Folklorico while the tragedy unfolded. Ximena, 15, a sophomore at Basalt High School, and Joel, 11, a fifth-grader at Basalt Middle School, learned the family lost everything after the performance.
It was hard enough losing their house and possessions. It was tragic that the Garcias two pets died — a chihuahua named Cosita and a parrot named Joey.
Now, the family is trying to recover from the shock. Aspen Santa Fe Ballet provided them with an apartment for the short term. They are looking for lodging to get them through roughly four months. Meanwhile, they are exploring the idea of purchasing a new mobile home and returning to Homestead Park. Friends and acquaintances have rallied to supply them with clothing and necessities of everyday life.
“Fortunately, (we) have good friends,” Martin said.
“I am impressed that we are not alone,” Estela added. “The response of people — they have broken my heart.”
She meant it in a good way. One of their closest friends is Polly Pollard, who started working as a tutor with Estela 12 years ago through English in Action.
“Everybody is just heartbroken over what happened,” Pollard said.
She said Martin and Estella are very involved in the community, so they are well-known. Estela gives back through English in Action by working with beginning students. She also is active in the music and choir program at St. Vincent Catholic Church in Basalt. She’s been active in volunteering with the Folklorico program since Ximena and Joel got involved when they were in preschool.
Estela and Martin were both professionals in Mexico City before they moved to the Roaring Fork Valley. Estela operated her own clinic. Martin was an electrical engineer.
It was difficult for them to find employment in their professions after they immigrated to the U.S. In the Roaring Fork Valley, Estela works as a professional trainer in Carbondale. Martin works in the engineering department at the Snowmass Club.
They are determined to rebuild their lives in Basalt and specifically at Homestead Park. Estela asked her kids if they wanted to move to a different house after the tragedy. They want to stay put.
For all of them, it’s where their friends are located. It’s close to the schools and the institutions that are part of their lives.
It’s also where their pets were buried this week, in the backyard.
The folks at Aspen Santa Fe Ballet have started a GoFundMe account to help the Garcias. It can be found by searching for The Garcia Family Emergency Fund. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than $27,000 had been raised.
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