Fire damages home for family of 20 in Rancho San Diego - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Fire damages home for family of 20 in Rancho San Diego

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — A family awakened by a big blaze early Sunday morning had to rush to get 20 people out of their Rancho San Diego home.  

The blaze occurred in the 2700 block of Willow Glen Drive - starting near one of their vehicles and then spreading to the home.  

"Then at 4, I heard this huge explosion," said resident Penny Hauer. "[There were] roaring flames shooting high in the sky.  

"We got these kids out - probably it didn't take us 10 minutes. I was so proud of everyone." 

Penny Hauer and her husband live with 18 of their adopted children - six are in wheelchairs, six have Down syndrome. 

"We chose only to adopt special needs children," said Penny.  

They also have three blind Shih Tzus. 

"I couldn't find a leash, so I took a towel and tore 2 strips off of a towel and wrapped it around their collars," Penny said.  

Firefighters put out the flames of the early morning fire.  

"[It's] very fortunate with no working smoke detectors that everybody got out," said San Miguel Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Andy Lawler. 

The task wasn't easy. 

"It was lifting, tugging, pulling," said Penny.   

In 2015, Passion 4 K.I.D.S. and 50 college students did a massive makeover for the Hauer family's home.  

Now, the Hauer's have a big mess on their hands – with burned blinds and broken windows. 

"I had myself and the crews come back out to see if there was anything else we could do for the family," said Battalion Chief Lawler.  

Assessing the damage, including the family's only handicap accessible van which was once white is now burned brown. 

And one of their cars burnt entirely.  

Suspiciously, four random gas cans were found near it. 

"I don't know why somebody would do that," said Catelyn Hauer. "If you need gas that bad, just call and ask."  

 But the Hauers are finding the blessing despite the blaze. 

As investigators inspected the home, some of the family still made it to church on Sunday.  

"I can't feel bad or sad, because I'm just so thankful they are all ok," said Penny. "And that my husband, who just turned 80, didn't have a heart attack with the garden hose and trying to get the flames down."  

A GoFundMe page has been established to help the Hauer family.   


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