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Woman who lost home to fire seeks help from the community

Reminder of home remains
Dee sits in her recliner outside of her new home with the remains of her old home that was burned to the ground still there.

YUMA, Ariz. (KSWT, KYMA, KECY)- A Foothills woman recalls the time she lost her home due to a fire three years ago.

Dee Fugat is a woman who volunteers for the rotary club and often donates salsa recipes for the county fair. Now, her days are mostly spent sitting outside of her home in the Foothills on a grey recliner waving at neighbors passing by with their dogs. 

However, Fugat is seeking help from the community after a fire took her home and almost her life. That is until you see what seems to be her backyard.

A pile of rubble lives in that “backyard”, a pile that has been the biggest pain, bigger than the pain she was living with, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for the past 30 years. 

The rubble and debris still remain on Dee Fugat’s property after almost three years after the fire broke. Fugat said she remembers vividly. 

“All of a sudden, one night, I woke up and I didn’t have anything,” said Fugal.  “I remember my dog jumping on me and biting my face trying to wake me up and I see all this fire around me.”

After being hospitalized she came to a home full of rubble and bad news.

Her 28-year-old dog had died from inhaling fumes. 

Fugat said, “I had found out my dog had died, I miss my dog she actually saved my life, a lot of people had thought I died.”

But now she faces another challenge, if she doesn’t clean out the debris in time, fines will be imposed. 

But the elderly woman lives on a fixed income and said she just doesn’t have the resources to clear out the debris.

Since the fire, she always felt ‘bashful to ask people for help’ so she opted to sleep in her car. 

“I’m a fighter I just don’t want to give up but the memory part that's just a part of MS that I can’t control,” said Fugat. 

Eventually, Fugat took matters into her own hands but they didn’t turn out so well.  While removing sheetrock, from the roof of the remains of her charred home, a piece fell off and taking her to the ground with it.

She landed in the hospital again and since then that pile of debris has been a big worry hers.

A close friend lend a helping hand, moved in and made an attempt to clear up as much of what was left of the house. 

“Things like this come up and you can’t afford to put it out there,” said Shelby Butterfield.  “It’s either you have your lights and water or food or you clean your place up.” 

But even then with the lack of resources and tools, it is just too difficult to clear it all out before fines are imposed. 

For Fugat this is just one more obstacle she is forced to overcome, but eventually, every warrior begins to lose strength. 

“I don’t want to die I want to keep going there's still a lot of things that I want to keep doing,” said Fugat.  “I can’t do it anymore, I can’t.” 

But as the storm rages on, they remain hopeful clear skies are in the future.

“We can have it done [clearing the debris] in one day and the city wouldn’t be on her and then we can start to plan her flower garden.”

Arizona News / Top Stories / Yuma County

Christian Galeno

Christian Galeno joined KYMA/KSWT in July of 2019 as a Weekend Anchor and multimedia journalist.

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