SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A devastating holiday season for San Jose’s Muniz family took an even crueler turn over the weekend.
The family was burned out of their rental home last week, escaping with their lives after 11-year-old Berlin Gomez-Muniz discovered a fire in the living room as she was getting ready for school early Thursday and awoke her sister, parents and grandmother.
San Jose firefighters called her a hero, saying she saved her family. Berlin’s smiling face lit up local television newscasts as she talked with reporters.
The fire destroyed most of the family’s belongings, killed their beloved cat and left the home uninhabitable.
In the holiday spirit, the community rallied around the family. The Red Cross and others came forward with clothing, the girls’ soccer coach collected $200 in donations and nearly $30,000 was collected in a GoFundme account.
The family took up temporary residence in a San Jose hotel with vouchers from the Red Cross and began to regroup. There was optimism while they had lost their home and their belongings, they had each other this holiday season.
They parked their car in a nearby downtown underground lot and carried what they could to the hotel.
The next morning when they returned to their car, they discovered a thief or thieves had broken into it and cleaned out their belongings.
“I thought, ‘Oh my Lord,’” Daniel Muniz told the San Jose Mercury News. “I almost laughed. This is ridiculous. We had already lost the house.”
But two days later, the reality of the scope of the family’s loss over the last several days finally began taking its toll. Optimism had been replaced by despair.
“At this time our family is very overwhelmed with everything that is transpiring in real life is starting to set in,” the family told KPIX 5 by email on Tuesday.
The Muniz Family GoFundMe Page had grown to $32,795 by Tuesday afternoon.