Rhonda Gilbert felt compelled to help when she learned about the Saturday morning duplex fire on 11th Street in Belgrade that damaged both units and left two families temporarily homeless.
“(We’re) just trying to get them some stability, some food and some shelter,” said Gilbert, owner of the Center Ice Café and Bubby’s Burger Barn in Belgrade.
Gilbert put up one of the families affected in a hotel for three nights, and is encouraging the community to “pitch in” to donate cash and restaurant and gas station gift cards to further assist the family. She added that folks have reached out offering to donate clothing and other items, but at this point the family doesn’t have anywhere to store such items and is still trying to determine the extent of damage to their residence.
The Central Valley Fire District was dispatched to the duplex at 206 11th Street at 8:16 a.m. Saturday. Firefighters had the fire under control approximately an hour later, according to Central Valley Fire Marshal Bruce Hennequin.
Hennequin said investigators determined the fire was accidental.
“The specific cause was undetermined, but we believe it was unintentional,” Hennequin said.
The fire started in the garage area on one side of the building and spread to the rest of the duplex, effectively rendering one of the units a “total loss” and damaging the other.
Gilbert said she hopes to put on a drive-in fund-raiser once the displaced residents have a better idea of what they need to recover. In the meantime, those interested in donating can do so at the Center Ice Cafe, which is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Really what they need is the community to step up,” Gilbert said. “We’re all here to help each other.”