Family of 12 displaced after Sunday house fire
Sasha Loftis, Simone Del Rosario
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A family of 12, two parents and their 10 children, will have to find a different place to spend the holidays this year.
A fire sparked in a bedroom that four of the daughters share in their home on East 32nd Street near Alvernon, according to Tucson Fire.
But the family told Nine On Your Side the condemned home is just one more challenge for the family who is dealing with much worse this year.
They said they understand life is about a lot more than belongings. One daughter has lupus, an autoimmune disease, and regularly undergoes chemotherapy, which is a last-ditch treatment for people suffering from lupus. The only son, Bernie, just found out he has cancer and now he'll start treatment this week, too.
They said these battles make the loss of their home that much harder to handle.
"It was so surreal, like black smoke, grayish-black smoke just coming out," said one of the daughters, Uvalilia Flores.
Uvalilia watched her bedroom go up in flames. The University of Arizona student, who is set to graduate this month, lost everything.
"It's gone," she said. "My books for all my courses...it's gone."
But she knows there's only one thing that matters.
"I'm just happy to be alive."
It's a lesson her family knows all too well. Azucena, one of the daughters, was in a coma this time last year, struggling with lupus and now chemotherapy.
Doctors also just found a tumor on the only borther, Bernie. The family just found out Friday that it's cancer, and now he'll start therapy this week.
Holding the entire family together is the oldest sister, Mareli, who is just 25 years old.
"I try, I continue to try but I haven't been able to make them laugh today," Mareli said.
She's trying to get a laugh under trying circumstances. But now she's just making sure her family is together for the holidays.
"We're the big family so right now we're going to be [in the hotel] and then hopefully we'll find a place to stay," Mareli said.
The Red Cross put the family up in a hotel for two nights, but this family needs a lot more help. Some of the kids even ran out without shoes on.
World Care is stepping up to accept all donations, both objects and monetary, for the Flores family. To donate, go to the Sam Levitz Furniture location at 3430 E. 36th St. on 36th near Palo Verde.
If you would like to donate clothes, the family needs items sized from a child's size 7 shirt to a size XL; and they need pants size 7-8 child to size 36X30. The family also needs shoes: men's size 9 and 10 mens and women's size 8.5.
Worldcare also suggests donating gift cards to stores such as Kohl's and Target.
Here is a list of items the family needs right away:
Toiletries (toothpaste, shampoo, etc.)
Money for a place to stay and to buy supplies
...and much more.