Efforts have already begun to donate money and clothing to a Portales firefighter and his family whose home was destroyed in a fire Tuesday evening.
Lt. Scott Watson was on duty at the fire department, but happened to be home having a brief dinner with his wife, Sam, and their youngest son when the fire occurred.
“I was having supper with the family,” Watson said. “I was about to leave when my wife smelled something. I went back there to check and discovered the back room was completely on fire.”
Watson was in the process of buying the house, which was not yet insured.
Two bedrooms were destroyed and the rest of the house received heat and smoke damage.
Battalion Chief Lance Hill and fire Chief Gary Nuckols said it is never easy seeing someone’s home burn down, but it is even more difficult when it is one of your own.
“It does hit closer to home when it’s one of your own,” Nuckols said. “I had a lot of calls Wednesday from people just wanting to know what they could do and where they could donate.”
Nuckols had a bank account for the family set up at J.P. Stone Community Bank for monetary donations and the fire department is accepting clothing and other material donations for Watson’s three children: Terral, 18, Tanessa, 16, and Trinity, 11.
With the two destroyed rooms in the house belonging to the children, they lost all of their belongings, including all the items they had just received for Christmas.
“Today, we were just trying to see what we could save,” Watson said, adding that he and his wife had gone back to their charred home to salvage as much as possible.
He said they have washed their small amount of remaining clothes to get the smoke smell out of them but some were permanently marked with the stench.
“They’ve handled it really well,” Watson said of his children. “They’ve all chipped in and helped with the cleanup. They’ve had pretty chipper attitudes too.”
“They all have the firefighter sense of humor, so we make jokes about it,” he added, laughing. “We’re just happy no one got hurt. The rest of it’s just material stuff and it can be replaced.”
Watson said people have called him with offers of furniture, among the smaller donations, but for the time, he has nowhere to put the furniture.
He said he will spend today looking for a temporary rental property until he can find a more permanent solution.
The family is currently staying in the Holiday Inn.
The fire occurred just before 7 p.m. evening and was caused by a short in electrical wiring, Hill said.
“The Red Cross has been great,” Watson said. “They came out that first night and set us up in a hotel room. Everyone has just been really good to us.”
Monetary donations can be placed into the Watson family bank account at J.P. Stone Community Bank on West Second Street while material donations can be taken to the Portales Fire Department on South Avenue C.
For material donations, the following are needed clothing sizes:
- Boys clothing: Pant sizes — 34/36 and 12 slim
Shirt sizes — Large and medium
Shoe sizes — 10 and 9 men’s
- Girls clothing:: Pant size — 11
Shirt size — Large/x-large
Shoe size - 10 ladies
- Ladies clothing:: Pant size — 11
Shirt size — large
Shoe size — 10
- Men’s clothing: Pant size — 38/34
Shirt size — X-large
Shoe size — 11E