Community Rallies Around Menifee Family Displaced by Fire

Story updated at 8:20 p.m. with list of items needed: This is just a small portion of the donati...

Story updated at 8:20 p.m. with list of items needed:

This is just a small portion of the donations dropped off at one location Monday to assist the Vrba family. Donations continue to pour in from community members.

Families throughout Menifee sent messages of love and donated hundreds of items Monday to help a family of 10 people who were living in a house gutted by fire Saturday night.

Groups including a local church, Menifee Interfaith Council, the community service group Faithful Servants, Menifee 24/7 and even a Daisy Girl Scout Troop have volunteered items and assistance. Countless individuals have donated clothing, toiletry supplies, bedding, toys and many other items to assist the family, which lost everything in the fire. Residents continue to drop off items and inquire about ways they can make financial donations to the family.

The Vrba family, which had three generations totalling 10 people living in the house, were away from home Saturday night when neighbors heard an alarm and saw smoke billowing from the building. By the time firefighters arrived and could extinguish the blaze, the five-bedroom house was gutted. Fire officials told the owners the fire likely was started by an electrical short.

Cheryl Vrba, who along with her husband William bought the house two years ago, is devastated by the loss but says family members are counting their blessings that no one was injured. The family includes two sons, a daughter and her husband, a daughter-in law and three young children -- girls ages 7 and 2 and an 8-week-old baby boy.

"You can't even imagine the outpouring of support we've had already," Cheryl Vrba said. "We're so thankful to everyone. When we picked Menifee to live five years ago, we thought the community seemed so wonderful. We were right."

Understandably, the whole experience has been overwhelming for the family. The American Red Cross put them up in a hotel for three nights. Beginning Tuesday, they hope to have temporary housing arranged through their homeowners insurance.

Insurance officials Monday agreed to board up the house, which is considered unsafe for entry. A neighbor who is a policeman put up yellow police tape Sunday night in an attempt to deter youngsters who were poking around the property.

Cheryl Vrba said the family will be reimbursed by the insurance company for expenses, but they have not yet received any up-front expense money except for what the Red Cross could give temporarily. That was enough to purchase a few days' worth of the most necessary items.

"It's devastating when you realize the little things you don't have any more," Vrba sai