Fire guts mobile home, leaving 13 homeless


By Jennifer Sorentrue, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 19, 2003



STUART -- Thirteen people were left homeless Monday after a fire destroyed the trailer where they were living.

Nine children and four adults lived in the trailer at 468 S.E. Tejon St. No one was hurt.

Yesenia Oropeza, 16, was the only one home when the fire started about 3:25 p.m.

The junior at Martin County High School was in her bedroom listening to the radio when she noticed a storm approaching. She went outside to get her family's laundry, which was on a clothes line drying, because she feared it would get wet from the rain.

Oropeza said when she returned to her bedroom, the dresser where her stereo was sitting was on fire.

"I wasn't going to stay in there while everything was burning, so I ran out," she said. "I ran to get the phone. I was too nervous. So I went outside."

Oropeza asked a neighbor to call 911.

Martin County fire officials were investigating the cause of the fire Monday. District Chief Jim Loffredo said it did not look suspicious.

The blaze gutted the trailer, causing the roof to buckle and destroy everything inside.

Oropeza said her aunt, uncle and their three sons were also staying in the trailer until September.

The Martin County Chapter of the American Red Cross will help the families with temporary shelter and some necessities.

Oropeza said her immediate family -- mother, father and five brothers and sisters -- planned to stay at a friend's house. She did not know what the rest of her relatives would do.

Although there were many people living in one trailer, the family wasn't in violation of any fire codes, Loffredo said.

"They own the house," he said. "You can have as many people as you want."

jennifer_ sorentrue@pbpost.com