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Family Loses Home in Canyon Fire

Carlos Rodriguez

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DEL PUERTO CANYON – The SCU Lightning Complex Fire in Del Puerto Canyon has consumed several structures, including the home of a family of eight.

Dale and Angela Holbert, along with their six children, received the news that they had lost their home to the fire on August 18th. The family just recently welcomed a baby girl three months ago.

The family was away from home at the time, so thankfully no one was harmed. A GoFundMe campaign was set up for the family to help get them on their feet.

“I find it ironic that I am sitting here staring at the campfire trying to gather my thoughts about losing our house (we just put so much work in to finish the inside of before the baby came) to a fire just today,” Angela Holbert said in a Facebook post linked to the GoFundMe page. “We appreciate the prayers and encouragement and kind offers for help that have come to us”

As of Saturday morning, the SCU Lightning Complex in Del Puerto Canyon and neighboring regions burned nearly 292,000 acres. The fire affected at least five counties including Stanislaus, Alameda and Santa Clara among others and was only ten percent contained. Smoke from the fire drifted across the region, blanketing the skies with unhealthy particulate matter. The fire ranked the third largest in the history of the state.

While news of the loss was difficult for the Holbert family, they tried to remain positive and optimistic. “God is good all the time and this time is no different. We are safe and we have our hope in Christ who gives us strength. Material things can be replaced. Our salvation in Christ cannot be taken away We are together and our kids are safe. That is what is most important.”

If you would like to donate to the Holbert Family via GoFundMe, you can do so by CLICKING HERE.

Carlos Rodriguez is an Emmy Award winning photojournalist specializing in public safety and natural disasters. His passion for local news stems from a deep commitment to his community, with a selfless mission to inform the citizens of the valley. As he worked on assignment for 19 days at the devastating Camp Fire in Paradise, California, he spent most of his time helping survivors contact their loved ones to let them know they were ok. Carlos is a veteran of Univision, FOX, and Telemundo TV stations and a native of Modesto, California.

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Child Taken in Stolen Auto Reunited with Family

Carlos Rodriguez

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MERCED – The parents of a three year old girl who was taken with their car as it was stolen were relieved to have their child back home Monday night.

The incident happened at about 6:45pm on the 400 block of West 27th Street, as Melissa Foster was preparing to take her Toyota Corolla to a car wash.

“I took one second just to run back to my porch to grab my purse,” Foster said. “In that split second, my mom saw the car door open and close.”

Someone had jumped into the car and began driving off with it. Melissa’s three year old daughter Jessie Sanchez, or “JJ” as she is affectionately called, was still inside. Melissa chased after the car on foot for two blocks before the vehicle was able to get away.

She believed whoever took her car and her daughter had been watching and waiting for her.

Police searched the surrounding neighborhood for any sign of the the stolen vehicle and the child.

“Commonly when someone steals a car and finds a child inside they (the suspect) will usually abandon the car within three or four blocks,” said Captain Jay Struble with the Merced Police Department. “Unfortunately this was not the case here.”

As time continued to pass with no sign of the car or the child, authorities issued an Amber Alert. Photos of the car and child were posted and shared to social media sites to help the word spread.

At about 8:45pm, the California Highway Patrol received a call from a citizen saying they saw the vehicle parked at a Chevron in Chowchilla. Authorities responded and found the vehicle abandoned with the child inside. Officers had to force entry into the vehicle to gain access, but found the child was unharmed and uninjured.

Detectives with the Merced Police Department, officers with Chowchilla Police and California Highway Patrol, as well as a K-9 from the Merced County Sheriff’s Office searched the area for any signs of a suspect. Monday night there was no word of an arrest.

Captain Struble said investigators were looking at surveillance video from the area, but they can only make out what appeared to be a male figure.

Jessie was brought home and reunited with her family in Merced shortly before 9:30pm. To brighten her spirits, Officer Rogelio Rodriguez bought her lollipops to enjoy on the drive home.

“She was very excited to see her mom and dad when she got back.”

The parents expressed their gratitude for the authorities involved in searching for little Jessie, and thankful for the public and Amber Alert system that made everything in this incident work out.

“Your mind is just a fog in that moment,” the child’s mother said of the two hours waiting while police searched for the girl. “I know she’s so strong and so brave.”

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Amber Alert: Vehicle Stolen With Toddler Inside

Carlos Rodriguez

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MERCED – Authorities searched for a vehicle that was stolen late Monday afternoon with a toddler inside.

The vehicle was taken at about 6:45pm from the 400 block West 27th Street. The car was described as a Silver Toyota Corolla with the California license plate 4VMS942.

The child, a 3 year old girl names Jessie Sanchez, was in the vehicle when it was taken. She has black hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a pink sweater, green shirt, and black pants with pink stars.

The California Highway Patrol says the vehicle was taken by an unknown suspect and last seen heading south on West 27th Street.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Jessie Sanchez or the vehicle is encouraged to call 911 immediately.

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House Fire Reported In Patterson

Carlos Rodriguez

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PATTERSON – Firefighters responded to a report of a home on fire early Monday evening.

The fire was reported shortly after 7:30pm near the area of Ward and Las Palmas Avenues. The initial reports indicated a roof on fire at a home.

Arriving fire crews located a home fully engulfed. Roadways around the fire were closed off to traffic for personnel working the incident.

At publication time, there was no report of injuries or a cause of the fire.

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