Homeless for the Holidays

By: Damon Dillman
By: Damon Dillman

Where Luis Santiago's mobile home stood on Wednesday, only rubble remains.

"I feel good," said Santiago, a resident of the Valley View Mobile Home Court, just north of Harrisonburg, "but I don't know what happened."

Thursday's early morning fire destroyed four trailers and damaged several others. Now Santiago and his family are among more than a dozen people left homeless just a week before Christmas.

"I don't know what's going on with Christmas," Santiago said. "Maybe we'll go to my uncle's."

"We don't have but a few small children involved, but it's devastating this time of year, to have fire loss like this, and lose everything you have," said William Shaver, executive director of the American Red Cross chapter for Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.

John Huddle, an assistant fire marshal for Rockingham County, says the fire started in Santiago's trailer. Huddle suspects a space heater caused the fire.

The Red Cross is trying to help victims get back on their feet.

"We're working with them, trying to meet their immediate needs," said Shaver. "Trying to replace some of their clothing that they lost, medicine and things like that, and those that need temporary housing, we're trying to work with them on that."

Santiago says he and his family will be staying with an uncle, and Shaver says several others also have relatives to turn to.

Others don't even realize they've lost their homes, he added, because they've already left for Mexico for the holidays.

"They're already away, so when they come back, they'll find that they don't have a house left," said Shaver. "But we'll deal with that when they get back."

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