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By Mike Hazlip—
A Citrus Heights mother and her two children are staying with relatives this Thanksgiving holiday after their home was damaged by a fire last week, and then reportedly robbed twice.
Leia Billings told The Sentinel Tuesday she and her two children are staying with her father after a fire damaged their home. Billings said she was awoken at about 1 a.m. Friday by the sound of a smoke alarm and her dogs barking. She said her daughter ran downstairs to get her.
“I jumped up, and I came out,” she said. “My son was in his room, and he sleeps in a loft bed and he was directly underneath the room that caught fire. I went in there and grabbed him.”
Once the children were safe, Billings called 911 and her parents.
Billings said her 69-year-old aunt was in another bedroom and she was initially unable to get her out, but went back inside with her father.
“I ran to save my aunt, and by the time I got in there, the smoke was now coming down the stairs pretty rapidly,” she said. “I know you’re not supposed to do that.”
Metro Fire reported crews found heavy fire on the second floor of the home and one victim was transported to an area hospital.
“We’re traumatized,” said Billings. “Every time a smoke alarm goes off or something.”
“Right now we’re sleeping in the living room and my kids and my two dogs, they haven’t left my side, they are sleeping right next to me every night,” she said. “I’m thankful we all made it out.”
Billings said her daughter lost her entire wardrobe, and the clothing that belongs to her and her son has smoke damage.
Just days after the fire, Billings said her home was robbed twice. Items included her son’s game consoles and a microphone he uses to record music. She said jewelry was also taken, including a pearl necklace that Billings said belonged to her grandmother.
“They ransacked my room and took all the jewelry I didn’t take out,” she said.
Thefts following fires are known to occur, as thieves take advantage of easy access to damaged properties. In a recent example, The New York Post reported that thieves earlier this month made off with more than $14,000 in goods from an apartment following a fatal fire that took the life of a six-year-old boy.
Metro Fire reported one person was transported to the hospital as a result of last week’s fire, which Billings identified as her aunt. She has since been discharged, but Billings said there is nowhere for her to go until she can find a place to live with her family.
A family member set up a GoFundMe page with a $5,000 goal. As of pres time, 13 donations have raised $750 in the first three days. Billings verified the account and said she will receive the money directly.
*Editor’s note: The Sentinel is not including the address of the home, due to concerns of continued theft.
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