By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
Jan. 21, 2014
GLENDORA, Calif. – As the governor of California declared a state drought, Ray Parayno saw first hand the affects of the dry weather as he spent the weekend picking up the pieces of what was left of the historic Singer Mansion.
A camp fire sparked a wild fire that forced some 3,700 residents to evacuate. Five houses were burnt as it raged for nearly 2,000 acres, including the historic mansion which he has owned since 2006.
The dry weather did not help as it took several days to fully contain the so-called Colby fire which he, his wife and tenants helplessly watched.
“We were downstairs and watched,” Parayno recalled. “It was a real harrowing experience watching your house burn down. I couldn’t see it but when I saw a big ball of smoke blow up on this side I can see it was the apartments. Then a little while later a big ball of fire and smoke went up.”
The mansion once belonged to the Singer family behind the sewing machine company. It’s become a popular location for Catholic retreats, and until last week’s Colby Fire, it housed 10 people.
With the guest homes, maids quarters, and some vehicles burned, Sugar Ray, as he’s known throughout out the community finds peace in seeing religious statues and a large cross were unscathed.
The main home and chapel also remained untouched by the flames.
“It’s a miracle,” he said. “It’s the work of the Lord through the intercession of the blessed Virgin Mary.”
A total of three injuries were reportedly caused by the massive blaze. Insurance adjusters are expected to visit him this week.
“We’ve had a lot of retreats for young kids up here, teen retreats,” he said. “We’d like to probably rebuild depending on how the insurance claim works out, and the will of The Lord. Were mostly sad for the tenants that were displaced. A lot of the tenants have been here a long time. They’ve treated this as their home.”
In the meantime, three men believed to be homeless, have been arrested on suspicion of recklessly starting a fire. With the state of drought the governor is asking people to conserve water while being more cautious of potential fire hazards.
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