San Diego firefighters help fire victims replace Christmas presents

Toys, donations given to Linda Vista family

SAN DIEGO - A Linda Vista family's holiday tragedy has turned into a lesson in the spirit of giving.

The Madrigal family's home was gutted by a fire on Tuesday, but they have two things to celebrate -- nobody was injured and complete strangers are stepping forward to help them get back on their feet.

"It touched my heart," Leo Madrigal said after San Diego firefighters delivered toys to his 8-year old son, Ryl, the morning after the blaze.

The San Diego Firefighters Union also had gift cards for each of the eight family members, totaling $500.

"This is an extension of what we do," said union president Frank DeClercq. "We felt an obligation to help these folks out, and we should all be doing this across the country, helping our neighbors."

Firefighters offered handshakes, hugs and well wishes to the family, as Ryl's grandmother sobbed.

There was also a donation from a La Jolla contractor. who heard about the fire and decided to share some restaurant gift certificates.

"I'd rather see people like this use them," said Ron McChesney. "I certainly don't need them."

McChesney shared that his brother, who lives in the Bay Area, had a fire in his home last month, and that was part of the reason why he wanted to reach out.

Seventeen-year-old Raf Madrigal said he was thrilled that people would want to help his family, but said the best thing about the fire in their home was the fact that nobody was hurt.

"It's OK as long as we're all still together; it's Christmas," he said.

The Madrigals will spend the holidays in a hotel room, and they will not be able to return to their home for at least six months while reconstruction is being done.

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