A family in San Bernardino County is struggling to recover after they lost everything in a devastating fire that has left them homeless amid one of the family members’ battle with cancer. 

Video captured the sheer destruction of the Oct. 8 fire that spread to two duplexes on Juniper and Upland avenues in Fontana.  

Alfredo Vincente’s home was gutted by the blaze and now the father of three and his wife are staying in a friend’s garage, leaving him and his wife, who is sick with cancer, to figure out how they can get by after the incident.  

It was late morning and Vincente was at his son’s soccer game when he got the panicked call from his wife, who was at home with their two daughters. He said that one of his daughters noticed smoke inside his wife’s room. She ran outside and saw the raging fire. His daughters then ran to tell another woman who lives in the same property.  

Amid battle with cancer, family loses everything in fire
The Vincente family home seen in flames on Oct. 8, 2023. (Mike Miller)

“We heard a lot of cracking and popping, and it sounded really loud,” the neighbor told KTLA’s Shelby Nelson. “We thought something was going to explode. It sounded very scary.”  

By the time Vincente got back to the house, it was practically engulfed in flames. He said firefighters told him the blaze may have started from a water heater at a nearby neighbor’s home before spreading the duplex where he and his family live.  

While the family is grateful that they all made it out okay, the fire comes at a bad time. Vicente’s wife is out of work as she undergoes chemotherapy for leukemia, which was diagnosed last year.

Amid battle with cancer, family loses everything in fire
Alfredo Vicente’s wife, daughters and son in this undated family photo.

After she lost her medications in the fire, the family’s neighbor, Emily Gutierrez, organized a GoFundMe campaign in hopes of getting the family some financial help.  

“Just knowing their situation, knowing what they’ve been through, they’re very honest, very humble people” Guitierrez said. “They don’t deserve anything that they’re going through. So, this is why I wanted to spread the word, that maybe we can get some help.”  

Neighbors told KTLA that it’s likely going to take six to eight months to get the family’s home repaired so that they can return. In the meantime, the displaced family is also accepting food and clothing donations.