One Southern Colorado grandfather credits his 14-year-old granddaughter with rescuing him from a fire that destroyed their home. The fire broke out around 10:30 Wednesday night at Jerry Cates’ home on Teak Place. That's just north of Falcon.
Investigators say the fire started in a bedroom in the basement and quickly spread to the upper levels. The home is a complete loss.
Jerry and Jodie Cates are raising two of their grandchildren. And even though they lost everything, they say they are grateful everyone got out safely. "I just have moments you know?" For Jodie, Wednesday night's fire is still hard to talk about. "I guess I'm just trying to recover and take one day at a time, I guess."
The Cates family is now living with friends. But the devastating fire is just one in a series of unfortunate events the family has endured. It started when Jerry Cates was diagnosed with leukemia. Next, the family truck broke down and needed more than $1,000 worth of work. Then came the fire. Very little is left of the family home, but the Cates say, with the help of family and their friends in the tight-knit community, they are going to make it.
But out of this story of hardship comes an act of heroism. "I call Heather my hero because she saved her Grandpa," says Jodie. In the confusion of the fire, 14-year-old Heather went back into the burning house and helped her grandfather to safety. "I wouldn't call myself a hero. I think anyone would do it for their family members or for anybody. I remember going into the house and I didn't see him so I came back out and then I see him I just glanced over and there he was so I grabbed him real quick," she says.
Heather is competitive barrel racer and her prized Christmas gift, a silver breast guard her horse wears in competition, was lost before she ever got to use it. "I'm a little upset about it, but as long as I got my family, out I was happy."
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
If you would like to help the Cates family, a fundraiser is being held on Saturday and Sunday at the Wal-mart by the Chapel Hills Mall. Friends will be taking donations and selling kettle corn and roasted almonds, with all the proceeds going to the family.