By Kevin Deutsch
A Margate family lost nearly all their possessions when a fire ripped through their home Wednesday—a blaze that took more than two dozen firefighters to extinguish, including one who rescued a beloved grandmother’s ashes from the burning house.
The family of eight, Maria and Hector Tapia, Yexsenia Tapia Grullón and Gabriella Tapia, Billy Grullón, and children Justin, 7, Lucas, 2, and Layla, 1, are receiving an outpouring of support from local communities after they “lost all of their belongings,” according to one of several GoFundMe pages set up to help the victims.
The blaze, which engulfed the house in 1300 block of Northwest 58th Street around 6 p.m. Wednesday, “started from an air conditioner in the backyard and made its way through the house instantaneously,” according to the page.
“Thankfully, all family members and their pet rabbit made it outside in time to safety. We are grateful that no one was injured. And are grateful that a very brave [Margate] fireman was able to retrieve their grandmother’s ashes from their living room. Unfortunately, no other items were retrieved, and the family did not have renter’s insurance.”
“The Tapia Family are the kindest people with the most generous and loving hearts,” the fundraiser’s organizers wrote. “The news of this shocked and saddened all of their loved ones to the core. It has been an emotional few hours for us, but we cannot imagine the devastation and terror felt by each member of the family who experienced this horrific tragedy.”
The organizers said that money from the fundraisers would help fill the family’s immediate needs, such as food, temporary housing, clothing, and diapers for their young children.
“The family will need time to recover mentally, emotionally, and financially in the aftermath,” according to one fundraiser page. “The goal of this GoFundMe effort is exclusively relief and recovery. The listed goal of $20,000 is an approximation, as the full scope of the loss is difficult to quantify and still being assessed.”
In a fundraiser set up by Claudia Salazar, a relative of the Tapias, she wrote that family needs immediate help.
“If you know the Tapia family personally, you know they are always there for everyone and would give the shirt off their backs,” Salazar wrote. “Let’s help them rise from this tragedy.”
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.
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