Days before ringing in the New Year, a house in San Marcos with two adults and four animals went up in flames, burning all possessions and leaving the family without a place to stay.
Since the incident, the community has rallied around the victim, raising more than $6,000 in 12 days.
Chrissy Stewart was away at work when the home she shared with her mother and pets since 2013 began to burn. Stewart had been working on the evening of Dec. 29, when her dogs quickly alerted her mother to the fire, saving all of their lives. Stewart, her mother and the dogs were all safe, however, two of Stewart’s cats went missing.
“The fire inspector said the fire started in my bedroom, in the heating ductwork,” Stewart said. “My theory is that the ductwork hadn’t been cleaned since before the flood and something that was in there got really hot and caught on fire.”
Firemen put out the fire before it spreads to neighboring houses, but the damage had left much of the possessions ruined and unrecoverable.
Janice Smith O’Brien, a friend of Stewart, created a GoFundMe account to support Stewart and her mother.
“Chrissy has been through so much in the last few years,” O’Brien stated. “She has survived a very serious life-threatening health emergency which left her with unimaginable medical bills. Following this she lost a lot of her possessions when the San Marcos floods of 2015 flooded her home, now she has lost everything she owned.”
Due to the health emergency, Stewart was forced to withdraw from the radiation therapy program at Texas State in the Spring 2014 semester.
Stewart had become very ill, surviving several close calls until she was finally diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenia, a rare bleeding disorder that leads to a severe decrease in blood platelets.
“My spleen was eating my platelets, and my blood was like water,” Stewart said. “Life likes throwing wrenches into my plans.”
The GoFundMe was quickly shared by other friends in their close-knit group, and in a matter of days they surpassed their initial goal of $5,000.
Stewart has decided to rebuild and is seeking to find her lost cats, and the GoFundMe funds have assisted her in finding temporary housing until the project is complete.
Stewart had addressed GoFundMe contributors, thanking them for their support on Jan. 3.
“Thank you all so much,” Stewart stated. “We have a place to stay. We are working on cleaning out the house, but everything is a total loss. We will survive. We needed to declutter anyway. Life is going to be super busy with work and clean up, but I will get back to you. I love you all and appreciate this more than you can imagine.”
Stewart’s GoFundMe campaign can be found at www.gofundme.com/chrissys-fire-relief-fund.