Shawn Tucker spent Wednesday afternoon digging through the charred remnants of his home in nearly triple-digit North County heat.
A day earlier, Tucker’s wife, Katie, and their “all-American mutt,” Charlie, escaped a blaze that badly damaged the Atascadero mobile home they rent and destroyed a neighboring residence. The fire, which was reported about 2:20 p.m. in a mobile home park near San Diego Way, caused the CHP to shut down Highway 101 in both directions as a precaution. Nearby mobile home units were also evacuated.
Charlie was the first to observe the fire and alerted Katie, who took the dog and fled after attempts to extinguish the blaze failed, said Tucker, who was working at the time.
“No one got hurt. ... It wasn’t as bad as that,” said Tucker, referring to the house next door, which appeared to contain almost no salvageable belongings.
Terrie Banish, Atascadero deputy city manager, said the fire was caused by an electrical problem in the more heavily damaged unit, starting in the backyard, then burning toward the freeway directly behind the mobile home park.
Debra Morris and her two sons, Conner, 13, and Hunter, 5, lived in the neighboring home and were also displaced by fire damage, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help them. Morris could not be reached on Wednesday.
Tucker, who works as an aquatics coordinator for the city of San Luis Obispo, said the loss of family heirlooms and trophies and certificates, such as his diploma, was one of the worst parts of the fire. He and his wife were able to salvage clothes and other items, but the things lost in the fire were not insured, Tucker said.
The couple will be staying at Tucker’s grandfather’s beach house in Cayucos for the time being, but will be searching for a permanent residence, he said. As he and Katie, a Puma Aquatic Club coach and Kennedy Club Fitness swim instructor, donned masks to sort through their smoky home, Tucker said they’re grateful to the fire crews and police officers who responded to the fire.
“It could’ve been a lot worse than this park if they didn’t fight and put their lives in danger,” he said.
Jennifer Tucker, Shawn’s younger sister, set up a GoFundMe page to help her brother. She said she felt “helpless” living in Bakersfield, but hoped community members would reach out and help her family. Tucker suggested gift cards and money, so her brother wouldn’t have to find room for donated items.
“You don’t realize what life is before you have to go through something like this,” Tucker said.