Community helps family after fire

SAN ANGELO, Texas – In the early morning hours of Sunday, Jan. 23, the Matas were sleeping in their home when they woke up to their son yelling at them to get out.

“My first reaction was to go get my father. I couldn’t, so we ran out of the house and grabbed my son and daughter. We just stood across the street and watched helplessly,” said Brenda and Jose Mata.

Miguel Mendoza Jr., who is described as the family hero, had previously suffered a stroke and was unable to escape the flames in the house. But Mata adds that she not only lost her father, but also her first furry grandchild, Astro.

“She luckily didn’t get burned as much as my dad, but we found her when they were cleaning up, so we buried her,” the Matas said.

The Red Cross, along with the Salvation Army, have contacted the Matas, who are currently staying at a hotel until they can determine their next steps.

A former classmate and dear friend Fernando Fuentez said without hesitation that he was ready to help.

“I mean there really are no words, it’s just automatic, with something like that. We just have to do it, there’s no turning back,” said Fernando Fuentez , owner of Chadbourne Tavern and Lily’s Pizza.

Fuentez will be hosting a food platter where all proceeds will go to the Matas who are rebuilding their lives.

“This fundraiser is something quick and quick to generate income, something to move them forward, so they can have some structure. After that we will have a few more events in the near future,” Fuentez said.

Fundraising will start at 11am at Chadbourne Tavern until all food is sold out.

The Matas still do not know what caused the fire, but own the land and plan to rebuild in the future.

Sam D. Gomez