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Fire ravages Spring Valley home of homeless advocate

Space heater is a possible cause of fire
Fire ravages Spring Valley home of homeless advocate
Posted at 4:37 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-10 20:41:54-05

SPRING VALLEY, Calif. (KGTV) - An advocate for homeless youth is now without her own home after a fire ravaged her Spring Valley house.

Even after eight days, seeing the remains of her home has not gotten any easier for KishaLynn Elliott.

"It was shocking, and it was devastating,” Elliott said.

That Sunday night, she and her family—including her wife and 5-year-old son—were at a holiday event in Del Mar getting ready to go snow tubing when they got a call from their neighbor. Their rented home in Spring Valley was on fire.

Elliott raced home, where fire crews had put out the flames.

“When I got to the door here, I almost fainted,” she said.

Inside, she discovered a heavily damaged interior. Nearly all of her possessions were gone and her family was suddenly without a home.

“I was, and I am still grappling with some grief,” Elliott said.

The issue of homelessness is one Elliott knows well. For the past eight years, she had several positions at Monarch School, a public school for homeless youth. Currently, she's the Vice President of Operations and Evaluation.

“I was also affected by homelessness during my youth a few different times,” she said.

She said her renter's insurance will cover her losses, but only a few months of housing and expenses. It'll take at least eight months for the homeowner to make the house habitable again. As for the cause of the fire, firefighters told her that it originated in an outlet in her first-floor office.

Elliott said plugged into the outlet was an extension cord with a surge protector, which was turned on. Plugged into the extension cord were several devices, including a fan, shredder and a space heater, which were turned off.

“The fire department explained that the items plugged into surge protector were probably still drawing power,” she said.

Firefighters told Elliott the fire burned hot and fast, and was likely not survivable had they been asleep.

“I’m grateful we weren’t here,” she said.

She's also grateful for one of the few things that did survive.

“Everything else on the bedroom shelf was toast, but my father's ashes were okay,” said Elliott.

The investigation into the fire is ongoing, but a San Miguel Fire & Rescue spokesperson says space heaters shouldn't be plugged into an extension cord and should be unplugged when not in use.

A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help Elliott’s family with expenses.