NORAD-USNORTHCOM community provides fire victims with new home

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | July 21, 2006

“Daddy, I want to go home.”

Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Hernandez was speechless when his 2-year-old daughter spoke these words July 6, for this time the Hernandez family had no home to return to following an early morning house fire.

“We lost everything,” Hernandez said. “I’m just glad we all got out safe … everything else can be replaced.”

And replaced it was. Hernandez, assigned to the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command Directorate of Manpower and Personnel, was relieved when he could tell his 2-year-old daughter Nina, “Honey, we’re home.”

Thanks to the combined efforts of the NORAD-USNORTHCOM community, the sailor and his family moved into their fully furnished home located on Peterson Air Force Base July 13.

“Whenever a shipmate is in need, you help out,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Morris, who orchestrated the Rocky Mountain Navy First Class Petty Officers’ Association’s efforts to collect household donations. “Helping people in need is what the military is all about.”

Morris noted the amount of donations was so overwhelming that he had to turn folks away.

“Everything they needed they had,” Morris said.

Basic necessities such as diapers, food and a vacuum were purchased using cash donations collected by Hernandez’ supervisor, Senior Chief Petty Officer Brian Pearce.

Hernandez said his family’s transition into their new home went very smooth.

“Seeing the house, all the furniture, clothes and toys, was such a burden off my shoulders,” he said. Hernandez said his family had a sense of “now we have a home” and there were really “no words” to express his family’s gratitude.

The fire investigation found that a pinched extension cord in the utility room was the cause of the early morning fire.

Stirred out of his bed by the smoke detectors, Hernandez found that his utility room was already filled with smoke. After evacuating his family, Hernandez went around the back of the house to investigate.

“The fire spread into the kitchen and attic,” he said. “The whole house was engulfed in flames within about 10 minutes.”

The sailor realizes that his family is fortunate to have survived the ordeal.

“I’m still counting my blessings,” he said.