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'Priceless' family heirlooms lost in Spring Valley house fire

Propane barbecue grill was ignition source
'Priceless' family heirlooms lost in Spring Valley house fire
Posted at 4:33 PM, Nov 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 20:34:19-05

SPRING VALLEY, Calif. (KGTV) - Family members are coming to grips with the ‘scope of the loss’ after a fire consumed two homes in Spring Valley over the Thanksgiving weekend.

“I don’t think the full extent of it has really set in for everyone, yet,” Natalie Barber said.

Barber said around noon on Saturday, her brother-in-law’s brother was in the backyard of her parent's home on San Bernardino Avenue, preparing to grill some food for lunch.

He lit the grill, then went into the home to get the meat, and looked back toward the deck.

“He could see the flame across the room and that the wall outside was already on fire,” Barber said.

Around that time, Barber’s mom, Cynthia Hathcock—pulling into the home—ran inside and told him and his girlfriend to get out.

Hathcock grabbed one of her dogs, while another ran out. She was able to escape the flames, but the home next door did not.

Those neighbors were out of town, but that home, like the Hathcock home, was destroyed.

Two of her parents' three cats remain missing. Her parents’ home of 40 years was gutted

"It has been really hard to know, no family photos really survived. None of our keepsakes,” Hathcock said.

The attic was full of priceless family heirlooms.

“Mementos from our grandparents. Jewelry that can’t ever be replaced. A grandfather clock hand-built by my grandfather … Mom had china from her great-grandmother,” said Barber.

Barber says the her parents had insurance but they were underinsured. Still, she said her family is grateful.

“The house is just a place, but the home is the family that presides in it. As long as we have family, we’ll be okay,” she said.

The cause has not been determined. Fire crews told the family the cause could be anything from a faulty burner or lighter to a faulty hose.

A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help the family with expenses.