Michelle Stevens and her 14-year-old daughter were looking forward to a new start when they moved into their own apartment in Lemoore. She bought new furniture, including a dining room set and bedroom furniture for her daughter.
On Monday, just nine days after moving in, she lost it all in a devastating fire. She had been out running an errand when she came home at about 1 p.m. to see smoke coming from the roof of her single story apartment on North 19th Street. Luckily for her daughter, who was home napping, the smoke alarm alerted her and she ran outside.
“I went inside to see if I could tell where the smoke was coming from and I started to hear the roof creaking and I knew I had to get out,” she said.
Lemoore’s volunteer fire department battled the Labor Day blaze, that destroyed at least three apartments, including Stevens’ unit.
“We were only there nine days,” she said.
Despite the loss of her belongings, Stevens is thankful she and her daughter April are safe. The Red Cross has given them enough money for three days of lodging at the Best Western Hotel. The Lemoore Police Department, Parks and Recreation Department and Lemoore Christian Aid have also provided assistance.
A friend of her daughter has also started a Go Fund Me page to help get the family back on their feet.
For now, Stevens must wait for her deposit from the apartment’s manger before she can move into another place. She still has some of her art supplies that were kept in storage. Stevens operates a paint party business called Coat of Many Colors and she attends West Hills College in Lemoore where she is studying art.
Stevens, who remains upbeat, says she’s lived through tough times before and isn’t about to let this tragedy get her down.
“I am a spiritual person and I know there is always a silver lining,” she said. “I really believe that.”