Just after 10:40 Sunday morning, the Grand Junction Fire Department responded to a call of a house on fire in Orchard Mesa. While the blaze destroyed much of the home and caused hundreds of thousands in damage, the family who once called it home says it still has a lot to be thankful for.
LaVerne Ray says she went to church Sunday morning, just like she does every week. But when she returned home, she realized that today was no typical Sunday.
"I saw three fire trucks in front of my house," said Ray. "so I knew something had happened."
Officials say sometime around 10:40 Sunday morning, a fire had started in their backyard, quickly spreading to their shed, garage, attic, and even the house next door.
One man driving by the house said he noticed the flames but saw no people running out or standing outside, so he jumped out of the car and rang the doorbell to make sure everyone was safe.
"Then he finally answered the door and me and this gentleman got the kids out of the house and got them across the street," said Dave Underwood, who helped alert the family.
Officials say Donald Ray and his two great-grandsons were inside the house when the fire broke out. Neighbors say he and the kids calmly made it outside, then just stood back and watched fire crews go to work.
LaVerne says as she pulled up, her thoughts immediately turned to her family inside. She was happy to learn that her worst fears hadn't come true.
"I was just very relieved," said Ray. "That was my my number one thought."
The Rays say the fire destroyed their garage, shed, attic, living room, and kitchen, but not the bedrooms where Donald and the kids were. As they walked through the charred remains, LaVerne says all she can think about is how her family made out safely.
"I guess the reality will eventually catch up," said Ray. "I'll eventually realize what happened."
For now, the Rays say they'll have to leave their home of 30 years and stay with family and friends.
"We'll just have to do what we have to do," said Ray. "We have been thinking about fixing up the house and selling it anyways."
They say they're doing well and that they're ready to tackle whatever lies ahead.
"I think it's going to take awhile, but we'll just work it out from day to day," said Ray.
Officials estimate the fire caused $110,000 in damages.
The Rays say their wonderful neighbors are already taking care of them and they've received numerous offers for places to stay.
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