Support needed for victims of house fire
by Peter Burke
Sep 28, 2012 | 1235 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last week’s duplex fire in Boulder Creek has left two families looking for permanent homes in the San Lorenzo Valley.

A two-story duplex on Old County Road in Boulder Creek was destroyed Thursday, Sept. 13, when an 11-year-old boy accidentally started a fire upstairs while playing with a lighter while his father walked to a nearby store.

No one was hurt in the two-alarm blaze that began at about 7:30 p.m., but the tenants — both renters — have received help from Valley Churches United Missions and the American Red Cross to put their lives back together.

Mike Swanson, the boy’s father, was on his way back from the Mountain Store when the fire started. By the time he got back to the house, his twins, a boy and a girl, were safely outside.

“Once I found out my kids were safe, I didn’t care what happened,” Swanson said.

Many donations have been taken to Valley Churches United Missions, and the organization is housing the family at Jay’s Timberlane Resort in Ben Lomond for a month while they look for a new home.

“People have been putting so much stuff together for us,” Swanson said. “I’m just trying to get a first and last months’ (rent) deposit together.”

The family is hoping to find a two-bedroom rental.

Swanson said his friend Maria Willis of Awaken Massage Therapy has posted a “Five Buck Challenge” at to raise money for the family.

“People are just amazing, how much effort they have put into this,” Swanson said.

Philip Kalab and Ashley Jameson were walking their dogs at San Lorenzo Valley High School when they saw fire trucks racing by. They received a call that the duplex they shared had burned down.

The American Red Cross and Valley Churches United have helped them, too, and a friend of the couple is allowing them to stay in a cabin in Boulder Creek for three months. But Kalab, a handyman who works on retaining walls, patios and woodwork, lost all his tools. He said any donations of tools, clothing or furniture would be welcome.

“It’s basically starting over,” Kalab said.

Valley Churches United Missions will take donations on behalf of either family at 9400 Highway 9, in Ben Lomond.

To comment, email editor Peter Burke at, call 438-2500 or post a comment at

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