Two mobile homes on the Spaletta Ranch were destroyed Tuesday night in a fire that took the homes of nine people, including three young children and three employees of the organic dairy operating in Point Reyes National Seashore.
Winds from the west pushed flames originating in the bedroom of the home of brothers Miguel and Carlos Galarza into a neighboring trailer just after 8 p.m.
Nichola and Ernie Spaletta were preparing an outdoor barbecue for dinner when they caught the smell of smoke.
Mr. Spaletta crossed the property to find one trailer engulfed in flames that were already reaching across to the home of Margarito Louza, who was sitting inside.
Mr. Louza had just enough time to grab his wallet and leave, said Mrs. Spaletta, who called 911 more than once as firefighters were making their way to the remote C Ranch.
Flames licked the historic farmhouse, which the Spaletta family has occupied since 1955. Mr. Spaletta staved off the fire until authorities arrived by hosing down storage sheds separating the farmhouse from the trailers. Four cars parked near the mobile homes also burned.
The Galarzas were away and Mr. Louza’s wife, Maria, and her children were at a neighboring ranch selling candy for a school fundraiser at the time the fire broke out.
On Wednesday Mrs. Spaletta expressed gratitude to the firemen, sheriff’s deputies and seashore rangers who responded. Had they come 10 minutes later, she said, she likely would have also lost her home.
Although Red Cross offered the families hotel lodging in San Rafael, Mrs. Spaletta said they chose to stay with neighbors, who are working together to find more long-term housing.