SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — City officials, community organizations and well-known public figures came together Wednesday to donate nearly $500,000 in gifts and cash — including a new mobile home — to families that lost loved ones in a triple fatal mobile home fire last week.
The Aug. 15 fire claimed the life of 62-year-old Them Bui, according to his daughter. The other two victims at the Golden Wheel Mobile Home Park, a largely Vietnamese community, were 10-year-olds Linda Van and Taho-Uyen Tran, according to a news release from San Jose City Councilmember Tam Nguyen’s office.
Bui is the uncle of Tran, a city official confirmed.
A relative visiting the next-door neighbor of the mobile home that caught on fire said an explosion appeared to spark the inferno.
The mobile home is being donated by San Jose-based Advantage Homes, whose owners Todd and Cindy Su were present at a ceremony Wednesday to deliver a check representing the cost of the home — $200,000.
Nguyen said the Sus originally announced the donation of the home on Friday at a candlelight vigil for the victims. Ten people lived in the mobile home that was lost in the fire.
“Being a father of two myself, I cannot fathom the pain and heartache they feel,” Todd Su said. “When I found out that they had no insurance on their home and that they were homeless, the only thing I could of think of is to do what I do best, which is to provide those people a home.”
The next major donation was a $100,000 check from Kieu Hoang, CEO of Rare Antibody Antigen Supply Inc. He is a Los Angeles-area billionaire who is also Vietnamese and donated $5 million to San Jose Coyote Creek flood victims in March of this year.
Other donations, according to Tham’s chief of staff Louansee Moua, came from Lillian Dang and friends, the Nhat Tham charity, a GoFundMe page started by neighbor Ruby Walia and the California Manufactured Housing Institute. All of the gifts totaled approximately $435,000.
San Jose City Councilmember Raul Peralez, who represents the area where the mobile home park is at 900 Golden Wheel Park Drive, said he was proud of the people in the area who came together to help the family in the immediate aftermath of the fire.
“The one bit of hope that I am able to provide is all of the support that we’ve received from the community,” Peralez said. “From the neighbors who stepped up with water hoses on the day of the fire, to the neighbors and the family members and community members who have sat side by side and cared with the family members, to today.”
The magnitude of the tragedy was still very evident to at the event.
“Although we are pleased with the outpouring of support … these are gifts nobody wants to receive and this is a press conference nobody wants to have,” Peralez said.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo presented flowers to family members of the victims when he arrived at the ceremony.
“No one can solve the pain that these two families are experiencing right now,” Liccardo said. “No family wants to experience this kind of loss, but it is so heartwarming to see so many families come out to support them emotionally and now financially to get back on their feet.”
Liccardo said this was one of the toughest things he’s had to in his time as mayor.
“This one is gut-wrenching, as you watch a mom who can barely stand because of her grief,” he said.
The widow of Bui thanked the crowd in Vietnamese at the end of the ceremony for all of the support.
The family also announced they are no longer asking for donations and would like space and time to heal from the tragedy.
TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.