When the Reinbolds’ rental home burned down in northeastern Paso Robles on Aug. 9, the family of five lost everything.
Still, they say there isn’t much to complain about, with all of the community support that’s poured in.
“We’re not where a family should be a month after a fire,” Cynthia Reinbold said. “It’s not a story of tragedy.”
Strangers gave baby and children’s clothes and money during a donation drive at Kermit King Elementary School. The San Luis Obispo County Red Cross provided a hotel room and rental deposit. Two local churches dropped off baby items and gift cards, while the Salvation Army pitched in with personal items and nonperishable foods.
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Various others helped, too.
“Even the people who just dropped by a package of diapers at the time, that was just the best thing ever,” the 31-year-old Reinbold said.
The family — Cynthia and husband Levi Reinbold; and their youngsters, Ethan, 9, Emma, 6, and Austin, 18 months — were displaced after the rural modular home they were living in was destroyed by a suspected electrical fire that started in a wall.
The mother of three was walking back from the mailbox when she smelled smoke and saw flames. She grabbed her children and left — leaving behind everything, including her cell phone.
“They always say you try to decide what things to take, but I wasn’t even thinking, ‘Get this photo album or the kids’ baby books,’ ” she said. “It was just about getting the kids and getting out.”
Within 25 minutes, “everything in the house (was) more than gone,” she said.
The blaze destroyed the home, their possessions and an adjacent barn. It also melted parts of their truck, leaving them to juggle two jobs, their school-age children and one car. Their renters insurance hasn’t kicked in yet, she said.
In what the Reinbolds describe as a dream, they found a condo rental that the landlord agreed to furnish after hearing their story.
“When we moved in, there were people putting together beds and moving things in. It was stocked with everything from a mop in the closet to fresh fruit in the fridge and sheets on the beds,” Cynthia Reinbold said. “And after seeing that — it was like how much complaining can we do?”
Less than two weeks after the fire, “I was sitting in the new house and felt like I had a home again,” she said, amazed. “I would have never expected that. We just feel so humbled by the help we’ve gotten.”
Now that the family’s life is nearly back to normal, the Reinbolds plan to focus on what bigger ticket items to replace and to take small steps so it’s not overwhelming.
Still, their spirits are up.
“We joked, like, ‘There goes spring cleaning,’ ” she said.
The help they’ve received may also shape their future.
“I know we’re going to be much more giving people after having experienced this,” she said.