Church, community rally around Valencia family displaced by fire

Benjamin and Samantha Yalung seen here with five of their six children. Courtesy photo.

A Valencia family of eight displaced by a house fire Monday is staying in one room at a local hotel after receiving help from their church and the local American Red Cross, as friends rally around trying to raise money to help them.

Fire and the efforts used by firefighters to bring the blaze under control rendered the Yalung family’s home on north Palmetto Ridge Drive, north of Calvello Drive, uninhabitable.

Fire and smoke caused significant damage, as did flooding caused by the water used to extinguish the fire, have resulted in the home being boarded up.

“They just have the clothes they had on them,” their friend Elizabeth Bonaventura told The Signal Tuesday.

“Their home is flooded, the insulation and dry wall were pulled out,” she said.

Samantha Yalung, mother of six kids aged 4 to 16, was taken to the hospital twice Monday for an allergic reaction to the insulation, Bonaventure said.

Bonaventura and other parishioners at the Valencia Hills Community Church have helped put the family in a hotel while insurance adjusters inspect the damage to the family’s home.

“Lots of people have donated already,” Pastor Dennis Stoneman said late Tuesday afternoon, noting that the family ate dinner with friends at the church Tuesday.

“She’s in shock,” Bonaventura said about the mother. “But, we’re walking them through it. Mr. (Benjamin) Yalung told us that they’re putting their faith in the Lord and that everything is going to be OK.”

Bonaventura, with the parishioners help, set up a Gofundme account online to help raise money for the family.

By late afternoon Tuesday, more than two dozen people raised close to $2,000.

“Our dear family friends had a fire in their home making it inhabitable,” Bonaventura wrote about the family on the fundraising website. “The home is boarded up and waiting for the insurance company to make decisions.

“The Red Cross stepped in and gave them provisions to get through 48 hours – but they need more help.  The Yalungs are active members of our church and we are blessed to share life with them and their 6 children ages 16, 14,13,9, 7 and 4.

“Currently they are all in one room at a hotel,” she said. “It has a small kitchenette with a refrigerator and stove top which is helpful because it is expensive to eat out.

“All the clothes are still in the home and as you can imagine – filled with smoke. We would like to raise money for them for clothes, food and extended stay in the hotel,” she said. “Would you prayerfully consider helping this beautiful family?”

Maria Melobueno, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, said Tuesday: “We provide just a very limited number of recovery services …. usually a very small stipend to be able to bounce back.”

Melobueno said a case worker has been assigned to the Yalungs.

“If they need a prescription, say, we would help them with that,” she said. “If they lost their glasses, we would help them with that.”

The fire broke out in the garage of the home shortly after 10:45 a.m. Monday, said Los Angeles County Fire Department spokeswoman Vanessa Lozano.

“There was smoke seen coming from a garage at that address,” she said.

It then spread from the garage to the home.

Firefighters arrived at the fire at 10:53 a.m. and spent an hour and half at the scene, extinguishing the fire and controlling it. At one point they cut a hole in the garage roof to “vent” the fire.

“All occupants were out of the house,” Lozano said. “The Red Cross was called for the family of two adults and six children.


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