A husband and wife responsible for fostering more than 600 foster children over the last 37 years are keeping their spirits up after losing their home of 12 years in a fire on Saturday.
Around 3:00 p.m. Saturday, fire crews battled a raging fire on Oleta Drive in north Redding.
Homeowner Ted MacDowell discovered the fire burning between his and a neighbor’s property. He grabbed a garden hose and tried to fight the flames.
“The reaction that I did, didn't help much,” said MacDowell. “Didn't help any, really.”
Crews from the Redding Fire Department and CAL FIRE responded, spent about 45 minutes fighting the blaze before an engine’s horn blared, signalling for firefighters to evacuate the structure and stop the firefight inside.
Instead, resources turned their hoses onto the top of the home, quenching the flames from above.
When the flames died and the smoke cleared the home was a complete loss, with the family estimating hundred-of-thousands-of-dollars in losses.
Asked what was left of the home on Monday, Ted MacDowell replied, “Not too much.”
That being said, he feels fortunate that most of the pictures in the home will be salvaged.
“Things turned out actually pretty good on that part,” he said.
Family photos abound inside the home, after all,Ted and his wife, Raelene, started fostering children when they moved to Redding in 1977.
Over the years, the Macdowells adopted 10 of those kids. They now have 16 grandchildren as well.
“We have a big family and when you're in a crisis like this, that's what matters the most, is having everybody around you,” Raelene said.
On top of the family rallying to support them, the response from the community has the MacDowells overwhelmed.
“That's probably the most emotional part for me, is knowing that people are out there that really care about you,” Raelene said. “And that's what matters in life. It doesn't matter that things are gone, those can be replaced, but relationships, it's all about relationships.”
Whether they rebuild is still up in the air.
Raelene said it’s their faith in their religion and the community that’s keeping them strong.
“We've worked in this community since 1977, when we moved here, and it just shows you that Redding is an awesome place,” she said.
And amidst so much loss, she’s still keeping a positive outlook.
“Life is great and we still have a lot of life and we have a 6-year-old to raise, we have to keep going,” Raelene said. “We will come out of this better than going through.”
Nobody was hurt in the blaze, although two cats, a short-hair tabby and a long-hair Siamese that were pulled out alive by firefighters are missing.
The home includes a downstairs apartment, where the MacDowell’s daughter, her daughter and her boyfriend lived. Upstairs lived twin 18-year-olds, a 6-year-old, Ted and Raelene. All eight have been displaced.
If you’d like to help them, you can do so by donating to an online fund set up to do just that. MacDowell relief fund.