It was early Christmas Eve when Alvin Barela awoke to find a fire broke out in his neighbor's home. His dog, Baby, woke him up by jumping on his chest while he dozed on his couch in his living room. "I looked towards the window and there was orange, nothing but orange outside," says Barela.
Smelling smoke, he raced to his front door where he saw his neighbors trailer ablaze. That's when he heard his neighbor's wife's voice. "She was saying, help help help. And he was pounding on his window," says Barela.
He says instinct kicked in. "What was going through my mind was to rescue, you know? That's the life of a human being in there," says Barela.
Barela says, the flames were towering over the treetops as he approached the front of the trailer to help his neighbor. Using a piece of wood, Barela busted the window and pulled his neighbor from the burning home.
With his neighbor safe, he turned to see what he could save from his own trailer, but it was too late. Fire had already engulfed it. Barela recalls a sinking feeling of loss as he watched his property burn to the ground. "my life just got ruined right there. All my possession and everything just went up in smoke," says Barela.
In addition to losing his trailer, which had been paid off but uninsured, he lost one of his dogs and a cat. The dog that woke him up, made it out of the trailer alive. Monday, Barela and friends of the family were salvaging what they could from the burnt out wreck.
While he surveyed the damage, memories of the 15 years he spent living there with his wife came flooding back. Still, he was optimistic about their future. "Now we have to start from scratch, but we'll rebound," says Barela.
He also expressed deep gratitude for all of the help the community has provided. He says they have plenty of donated clothes, food, money, and items to get back on their feet. As of Monday afternoon, he and his wife may have found a new home and hope to move in by the weekend. The next step, getting another dog.