12/26/10 — Couple celebrate Christmas at hotel after fire

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Couple celebrate Christmas at hotel after fire

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on December 26, 2010 1:50 AM

Their home was destroyed by fire more than two weeks ago, but for a particular Wayne County family, holiday blessings have transformed their new residence -- a local motel room -- into a place worthy of celebrating the holidays.

When Eddie Maldonado and Sharon Sail came home from dinner earlier this month, they saw flames coming out of the roof of their home.

But in that moment, they were not thinking about their melting Christmas tree or the fact that their residence on Big Daddy's Road was burning down.

In fact, the only thought crossing their minds was just how lucky they were to have made it out of the blaze unharmed.

But they still had nowhere to go.

And they had no personal possessions except the clothes they were wearing -- not even the tree they had proudly put up just hours before the fire.

But thanks to the Red Cross, the couple and Sharon's 19-year-old son had a place to stay.

Eddie explained that a Red Cross volunteer, Robert Mendoza, was at the fire and arranged for them to stay in a local motel until they can find another place to live. The Red Cross also gave the couple a gift card so they could buy some clothes and food.

"Now we have to go to second-hand stores to get more clothes," Eddie, 50, said.

Sharon, 47, said they got some of their clothes out of the burned house and washed them, but could not get the stench of the fire out of them.

"It's not even worth trying to save those clothes," Eddie said.

And with the help of the Red Cross and Target, the family now has a Christmas tree.

"Mr. Mendoza called and told Eddie that Target would give us a four-foot artificial tree, complete with decorations," Sharon said. "All we had to do was go get. We put it up in our motel room.

"I was so excited when I saw it. And my 19-year-old son was excited about having a tree for Christmas. Without this, we wouldn't have had one."

"Sharon had just got done decorating the tree at 7 p.m. the night of the fire," Eddie said, "and had put the last touches on it. We went to dinner and came home to no house."

Sharon said she saw the tree about 10 minutes before going to dinner and the next time she saw it, it was a melted blob.

While Eddie and Sharon were out eating, their neighbor noticed smoke coming from the back of their home, kicked in one of the doors to make sure no one was inside then called 911.

Sharon's son had left the home just a few minutes before the electrical fire broke out.

"Everything was gone," she said. "I couldn't believe it. You stand there and watch everything you got go up in flames and you can't do anything about it.

"But I looked up and saw Eddie and my son and I thought I didn't lose anything. As long as the two of them were OK, I didn't lose anything. We lost all of our material stuff and may not have a Christmas this year, but things will be better next year."

Eddie agrees, adding that "God was looking over us that night in that old house. Materialistic thing don't really matter as long as we're all safe. It would have been a tragedy for me to bury somebody right now."

Eddie added that if it had been for the Red Cross, they would have been living in his car this Christmas.

Although Eddie and Sharon both work, they had only been in the house for about six weeks before the fire took it all away from them. They were in the process of making it their home.

But they are trying to make the best of a bad situation. They were able to get a couple of gifts to put under the tree for Sharon's son.

"Right now we're just trying to take care of everything to have a place to stay when we both get off work and food for my son, and I just don't know which way to turn sometimes," Sharon said.

"It's a blessing that everyone's helped like they have."

Eddie said they're having to start from scratch. "We're barely getting on our feet now surviving.

And he said it's a blessing to know that there are people in out there who still care about others.

"After Christmas, when we get back on our feet, we may have another Christmas to celebrate," Sharon said.