Fire destroys home, car, belongings but not Craig family’s spirit | CraigDailyPress.com

Fire destroys home, car, belongings but not Craig family’s spirit

CRAIG — A steak dinner was cooking on the propane grill on the covered porch of her home when Carina Olivera went inside to cut potatoes. When she returned a few minutes later, she saw the smoke.

"I closed the tank and turned off the burners and started to panic,” she said. “I called 911 and closed the door."

She recalled she then ran into the street to wait for firefighters to arrive.

"Response from fire seemed to take forever. I feel bad for dispatch. I was yelling at them to hurry. I was in such a panic and didn't know what to do,” she said. “I barely knew how to call 911.”

When first responders arrived, Olivera's next call was to her husband of 2 years, Alex Perez, who was at his parent’s house helping translate a document for this father.

"She was crying and saying that the house was on fire," he said of the call from his wife.

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As he rushed to his burning home, Perez’s first thought was for the safety of his family — Carina and their 2-year-old daughter, Abi Perez.

"When she first called, I didn't know if Abi was having another seizure or if she was with Carina. I was so scared," Perez said.

About two months ago, Abi began having seizures, and the couple has been taking her to Children's Hospital in Denver for treatment. So far, doctors have determined she is healthy, but the family was still prescribed medication to use in case of another seizure.

"Everything was on fire," he said.

As Perez searched for his wife and child, Olivera was being consoled by a neighbor.

"My neighbor ran to me and hugged me, and that's all I needed,” she said. “It was just nice that someone was telling me that it was just stuff and as long as everyone was safe, it was going to be OK.”

When Perez arrived, he was relieved to see Carina and learn Abi was at her grandmother's house.

The family dog, a Yorkshire terrier named Nemo, was home at the time of the fire. Initially, Nemo stayed with Olivera, but the fire — couples with the crowd of people who had gathered — seemed to frighten the dog, and she  ran back toward the burning house. A first responder was able to rescue Nemo, but not before being bitten by the dog, causing an injury that required treatment at The Memorial Hospital.

"I felt so bad about the dog. They started asking me if he had been vaccinated, and I got scared that I would have to put my dog down, too," said Olivera, who was also transported to the hospital for treatment of burns on the right side of her arm, which she sustained when she closed the door on the fire.

After receiving treatment, she learned Nemo had been returned to the family unharmed.

Reunited, the family is staying with Olivera's parents.

She said her mother owned the trailer they were renting.

"It's too overwhelming to figure out a new home right now," Olivera said.

Neither the trailer nor the family’s personal property was insured. Items including wedding photos and tools were salvaged from one room the house, as well as a safe filled with some of the family's most important documents.

"They were wet, but OK," Olivera said.

She was not as lucky with her purse and wallet, which burned along with the contents.

"I have to reapply for my Social Security card and replace everything from my wallet."

Perez thinks the loss of the home, clothing, furniture, electronics, and appliances will total between $50,000 and $60,000.

"It's hard to say, as it was an older trailer that we were remodeling and fixing up," he said.

The family has been overwhelmed by an outpouring of support from the community. Red Cross assisted by providing money for clothing and necessities, and firefighters brought them a car seat and infant clothing for Abi.

A Go Fund Me has been set up at gofundme.com/tkwth-lost-in-fire to accept donations for the family.

"We appreciate the help. We don't know what to say. We want to cry and just say, ‘thank you and thank you,’" Perez said.

Added Olivera: "We are also so thankful for the firefighters and everyone who has helped us."

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

How to help

Carina Olivera and Alex Perez lost their home, a car and most personal belongings in a house fire Monday, Aug. 6.

The couple has been given many items but would appreciate help to rebuild.

To contribute, visit gofundme.com/tkwth-lost-in-fire.