Archive for Saturday, December 30, 2000

Young couple loses home, belongings, job in two fires

In one week, life changes dramatically

December 30, 2000

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— For Scott and Mindy Ortiz, the new year can only be an improvement on 2000.

In the space of one week, the young couple lost their home, their belongings, their cat, their dog and the source of their sole paycheck all to fire.

Now, the Ortizes, both 19, and their 16-month-old son, James, are living with Mindy's parents and looking for a place of their own. But the shutdown of the ConAgra packing plant because of the fire that caused heavy damage leaves their future uncertain.

"I would like to finally get ahead," Scott Ortiz said. "I hope everything goes fine at the plant and I can return to work. I've been trying so hard to get ahead and it's been so difficult."

The couple has received donations, mostly clothes, from the American Red Cross and some people from the community, but they are hoping for cash assistance as well.

"We really need some financial assistance," Scott Ortiz said. "Our baby needs diapers, baby food and clothes."

Their bad luck began Dec. 19, while Scott was working the night shift at ConAgra.

Mindy was spending the night at her parents' home, about a quarter-mile from the couple's own home, as she often did while her husband was at work.

She took one of her brothers to work about 2:25 a.m. and didn't notice anything amiss at her own home.

Another brother spotted the fire about 3 a.m. when he got up to get a drink of water.

By the time firefighters reached the scene, the two-story house was almost gone, along with all of its contents and the couple's pet cat and dog.

"They said everything was almost burned except for a small portion," Scott Ortiz said.

Monday night, Ortiz was on his way to work a little before midnight when some emergency vehicles passed him.

"When I got there, I thought an accident had happened," he said.

He stayed around the plant until 5:30 a.m., when all employees were told to go home because the plant was going to be closed.

"I felt very depressed," he said. "Like if bad luck was following me everywhere."

He was told by his supervisor Wednesday morning that the plant will be closed for the rest of the week, leaving his family with less money than before.

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