by James Coulter
A Lake Wales father managed to save his children and paralyzed wife before their house burned to the ground early Friday morning. Now his family is seeking donations for everything that they lost in that tragic fire.
In the early morning hours of Fri., Apr. 21, Saisha Sanchez received a call from her family informing her of the tragic news that their family home had burned down.
Around 2:50 a.m., her father awoke to a hot feeling on his face and a burning smell. He sleeps in the back room, and, according to the fire chief, the fire started on the patio. He had leaped out of bed and raced out of the room, which was the first that the flames hit and the fire spread to.
Frantically, he worked to awaken and hurry out his four children. The flames were halfway through their house when he carried out his paralyzed wife who is confined to a medical bed. He placed her on a wheelchair to wheel her out, and, once outside, dragged her out the rest of the way to the road.
Saisha received a call from her college-aged sister that their house was on fire. She called her father, who informed her that their house had burned down completely.
“I had no idea if he and his wife and his kids were burning, or if he was out,” she said. “I started calling and crying. He told me he was okay and he got everybody out of the house alive. The house is gone though. It is no more.”
Even after saving his four kids and paralyzed wife from certain danger and seeing the family house he built with his own hands burn down, her father decided to head to work that day. He works at Florida Natural from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and has worked there for over 25 years.
“He went straight to work three hours after the fire,” Saisha said. “Because in his mind, [he thought to himself], I already lost my house. I lost everything I owned. I can’t lose my job. So I went to work.”
Since the fire, the local community has reacted with overwhelming charity and kindness. The family has received care and donations from Polk Avenue Elementary and Lake Wales High School. Her father recently visited the Lake Wales Care Center to see how they could assist his family.
Saisha has been feeding her family while her father is working most of the day. Her house is currently being used as a drop-off location for donations. She has washed all the clothing donations she has received. Even a gift as simple as socks proves to be a real kind gesture, she said.
“The whole situation makes you stand back and reflect on the little things in life we take for granted,” she said. “I am not even talking about the house or car. I am talking about the littlest thing. When we bring these kids socks, it is like Christmas to them because they have nothing. They have no toys or beds. They have nothing and they are so positive in this situation.”
Overall, Saisha remained amazed about how positive her whole family has been acting throughout this tragedy. Even though they have lost their home and possessions, they remain optimistic that things will turn out for the best. Considering the outreach of their community, such optimism feels warranted.
“I have no idea how I would react if I had everything taken from me in the blink of an eye,” she said. “All I can keep thinking about these last three days is if my dad did not wake up when he woke up, he and his family would not be here today. I don’t even know how he was able to save himself, his paralyzed wife, and his children from a burning building.”
Please contact [email protected] on information on needs and how to donate.