The neighbors of a Burbank crossing guard who lost his dog in a fire that destroyed his home Thursday night are raising thousands to help him recover.
George Contreras’s home, located along South Lake Street, went up in flames about 10:30 p.m., according to fire officials.
Neighbors and parents of the children he works with as a crossing guard at a local school are coming together to raise money since Contreras does not have fire insurance. He lost coverage after switching to his current job following more than 30 years as a certified nursing assistant.
Contreras thanked everyone trying to help his recovery “from the bottom of my heart.”
“This is my problem, and I didn’t think anybody would be willing to step forward,” he said.
Late Thursday night, Sky5 captured one of his dogs being rescued from the flames. Dozens of firefighters battled the blaze as it fire burned through the house’s roof amid billows of thick smoke.
But first responders weren’t able to save his other dog.
“Every night, that dog slept in my bed. I petted this dog, I rubbed his hair. I loved that dog, and I couldn’t help it when he needed me the most,” Contreras said through tears.
He was inside the bathroom when the fire broke out and quickly spread. After the lights went out, he opened the bathroom door to find clouds of thick black smoke and intense heat coming from the rest of the house.
Contreras said he tried to save his dog but couldn’t make it outside the bathroom.
“I couldn’t have gone back. I couldn’t have gone back. I know I would’ve died because the smoke was so heavy, so thick I could feel it pressing on me when I walked into the room,” he said.
He jumped out the bathroom window and was able to escape unharmed.
The home has been in Contreras’ family since 1967. His father passed it on to him after his death.
“So this is my lifelong home,” Contreras said. “I planned to live here forever.”
The GoFundMe page, created Friday morning, has raised more than $6,000 of a $10,000 goal as of 3:30 p.m.