Fire destroys a family’s Thanksgiving. Yesterday, at 4:30 a.m., Maria Canedo thought she smelled smoke. As she searched for the cause, Maria went into her family room and turned on a light. Little did she know that there was fire and smoke just above the same ceiling, and that by 5:00 a.m., the smoke would take over the central part of her home. Ms. Canedo, a local teacher, was getting ready for work. As a part of her duties, she was about to wake her mother-in-law, who was sleeping in a room off the main part of the house.
As Maria went outside the home to see if the neighbors were burning something, she noticed that smoke was pouring out of the soffit on one side of the house. She hurriedly used her cell phone to call her husband, who was already at work at Flagstaff Medical Center, (FMC). Joe Canedo got home in time to help Maria take his mother out of the home in a wheelchair. As they were leaving the home with their wheelchair-bound mother, smoke poured forth just as they left the house. Fire destroys a home, however, all got out safely.
Mrs. Canedo was very confused when Joe told her they had to hurry to get out of the home safely because of fire. Joe said, “I knew she understood and that was what was hardest for me, since Mom has suffered from dementia for so many years.” Mr. Canedo wiped tears away as he spoke.
The home was built by Joe’s father years ago. It is hard to believe that today fire destroys its center.
As fire investigators and an insurance agent went over the damage, they let Joe realize the ceramic pipe in the chimney had broken, allowing the heat to spread to the combustible materials underneath and to spread through the attic. Unfortunately, Maria’s wedding dress was in the attic when flames spread and destroyed it.
Joe, a resident of Flagstaff for decades, is a salt of the earth kind of guy. He would give the shirt off his back to help others. He and his family worship at San Francisco de Asis Catholic church. He has worked in the restaurant business and as a consummate grill cook at FMC’s cafeteria.
Maria has taught school and worked with children in foster care. She is a strong woman, barely allowing tears to come up as she talks about her horrendous morning. She has worked all her life to care for her own family and her extended family in Yuma, Arizona.
As news spread about Joe and Maria’s misfortune, the Flagstaff teachers and medical community started to ask each other how they could help the family of three. At FMC, cafeteria supervisor, Kelly Scott, was asked over and over again, “How can we help?” The community has been served by Joe and they were not going to see that fire destroys the family’s happiness.
Donations can be sent locally to FMC in the Nutrition Services Department via Kelly Scott or Jeanine Drake. Monetary help would probably be best, however, any help would be welcome. The house has been “red-tagged” by the city as uninhabitable. Fire destroys a home but not a family.
Firefighter investigators were leaving the Canedo home, so Maria and Joe thanked them for saving precious family pictures. One of the fire-fighting team took them safely to the kitchen counters. These were far more important to them than other belongings. The firefighters were touched by the couple’s gratitude.
Fire did destroy this family’s Thanksgiving, but as Joe said, “We are all safe and well, thanks be to God.” The Canedo family spirit will never be destroyed, as it has been tempered too many times by real life and death experiences.
By Lisa M Pickering