Fundraiser Started for Damascus Fire Victim

A wooden stool, passed down in the family two generations is all Barbara Ortiz and her 13-year-old son Phillip could salvage after a fire destroyed their rented condo in Damascus last month. But the community here is trying to get this mother and son back on their feet.ortiz2

“My 13-year-old is worried about his mother being ok. That is not ok. He is not supposed to be in this position. He is supposed to be 13 enjoying life,” Ortiz said.

The fire happened  at 26000 block of Brigadier Place on June 19. Twelve units were damaged in the blaze. Ortiz said it started in her son’s bedroom and the cause was electrical.

Forty-eight-year-old Ortiz, who is a driver for Bar-T was at work and her son was with her at the time.

“I lost everything. I only have the sandals I’m wearing,” she said, adding she did not have renter’s insurance.  “I was able to salvage the stool my grandfather made for my aunt. I must be meant to have it. I’ve been dragging it around for 20 years.”

Ortiz said she’s bunking at family and friends’ houses.

Ortiz said she has a housing voucher from the Housing Opportunities Commission and hopes to be able to get back into her burned condominium after it is repaired so she can stay in the community where she grew up.

Damascus community member Nancy Lambros has started a GoFundMe account to help Ortiz get back on her feet. The fund has $1,435 in it as of July 6.

“I am so overwhelmed by all of the love. I  am so blessed by this community,” she said.

Photos Courtesy of Barbara Ortiz

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Krista Brick

About Krista Brick

Krista Brick is a multi-media journalist with Montgomery Community Media.


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