An elementary school principal’s home partially burned earlier this month after a motion-detecting light heated up a loose piece of wood.
Kristi Rivera said she heard a loud thud on the door at about 5 a.m.
“I was a little startled,” said Rivera, who is the principal at Purdy Elementary. “My husband went to get the door. It was our neighbor. Their dog had woken them up from barking — our house was on fire. My husband ran around the outside of the house, and I ran upstairs to get my two children, and we all ran out.”
Rivera said the fire alarm never went off.
“If it wasn’t for our neighbor and their dog — they saved our life,” Rivera said. “The fire department came out and tried to put it out. The fire destroyed the upper level of our home, including our kids’ bedrooms, living room and dining area.”
In an effort to help, Purdy Elementary teacher Wanda Angus has set up a bank account in the Rivera family’s name at the U.S. Bank on Stinson Avenue in Gig Harbor.
“There’s a lot of people on the staff that want to help, but they don’t know what to do, so instead of getting things they can’t use, we wanted to make sure she had a fund to access to get essentials,” Angus said. “A lot of people love her and want to help. It makes it easier for us to make it practical and easy for her to access.”
Angus said anyone who wants to help can go to the U.S. Bank on Stinson Avenue and ask for the Rivera family fund.
Rivera said it’s been a difficult situation, but she is grateful to community members for their support.
“The things can be replaced — we’re just so thankful our kids are safe,” Rivera said. “We’ve been so touched by so many people wanting to help us. This is an incredible community.”
The Rivera family is staying with friends until their insurance company can find them a suitable temporary living situation.
Angus encourages anyone who wants to help to email her at email@example.com.