Fire burns almost all of mobile home in TRE | RecordCourier.com
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Fire burns almost all of mobile home in TRE

by Christina Nelson

Even if the Cushman family didn’t believe in guardian angels before, they do now.

The home of Matt Cushman, his wife Peggy and children Latisha and Matt Jr. was devastated in a fire that destroyed the back end of their mobile home in Topaz Ranch Estates Monday morning at around 6 a.m.

There were no injuries, but the family’s dog and parakeets died from the fire.

“My cross made it and my angel made it,” said Peggy Cushman.

The two items were located in the master bedroom which was destroyed by the fire, along with two work sheds which were added on to the home. The work sheds held gun powder and hunting rifles which added to the intensity of the fire.

“Believe it or not, the pictures in my room were OK,” she said.

The areas of the home that didn’t burn suffered from severe smoke damage. The Cushmans lost clothing, furniture and appliances to the fire or smoke damage.

The fire started due to a faulty part in a six-month-old water heater, officials said.

“The installation did not have a proper sized flue which caused the water to overheat and then it caught the adjacent wood on fire,” said Jim Reinhardt, chief of the East Fork Fire and Paramedic districts.

After escaping the burning structure, Matt Cushman tried to put out the fire with a garden hose to save his home of 20 years.

A retired firefighter, Cushman was not supposed to be home and woke up when he smelled smoke. Peggy Cushman, who said she was in a deep sleep, believes that his presence saved her life and that of her 17-year-old son, Matt Jr.

“Things happen in mysterious ways. I was just fortunate that my husband was here,” she said.

Nobody was hurt but the family dog, Teddy, would not leave the bed in the master bedroom and was killed.

“He just wouldn’t jump off the bed. I don’t know why,” said Peggy Cushman.

“I’ve seen houses burn, six minutes and they’re gone,” said Cushman. He claims that his home is still standing due to the sheet rock walls installed in the mobile, as opposed to wood.

He also said that mobile home fires are the hardest to respond to in time. The TRE Volunteer Fire Department arrived within four minutes of the 911 call made by Peggy Cushman.

“They were the most wonderful people in the world,” she said about the firefighters and Red Cross workers who responded.

TRE, Topaz Lake and Ruhenstroth fire departments responded along with the District Arson Response Team, paramedics and Red Cross.

Friends and neighbors have offered help to the family and never left them alone after the fire.

The family’s future plans include rebuilding their home. At present, they will stay at the Topaz Lodge with vouchers issued by the Red Cross.

Non-cash donations for the Cushmans can be made by calling Belinda Grant at 265-3713. For information on cash donations call Sue Luck at 266-3273.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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