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Victims of Bradenton fire getting help

MANATEE -- Southern Manatee Fire Rescue is asking the community to help the family of six who lost almost everything in a house fire.

The family managed to salvage some of their clothes from the fire that destroyed their home in the 2900 block of 15th Street East.

But they lost the children’s gifts just 10 days before Christmas.

The couple, whose children are 6, 3, 18 months and 5 months, still aren’t sure what started the fire.

Valentine Mancera, 30, said Thursday he is still trying to piece things together with his family as they secured a new place to live.

Fire officials have not determined a cause. No one was inside the residence at the time. It took firefighters 30 minutes to knock the fire down. The blaze caused an estimated $40,000 in damage to the structure and contents.

“The firefighters were moved by the family’s loss during the holiday season and this is what the fire department does -- we help people,” said Southern Manatee Fire Rescue Lt. Adam Perry.

The family rented the small white frame house for the past four years and had no renter’s insurance.

The property owner, Dan Douglass, a real estate broker, has relocated them to another nearby residence he manages. The Red Cross was able to help the family and get utilities turned on at their new home.

“They’re good people,” Douglass said. “They’re hard working and they’ve got kids.”

The destroyed residence, which was insured, has some history: The Samoset Barber Shop was located out front years ago before the road was widened. Portions of slabs from the shop are still attached to the front of the home, Douglass said.

Cindy Kiser of Bradenton, who read about the fire in the Bradenton Herald, was among the first to help. She has offered to donate dishes, some electronic items and furniture she had planned to sell at a garage sale.

“It just feels like the right thing to do. I can’t imagine the devastation of losing everything,” she said. “There have been times in my past where the only way we’ve gotten by is through the generosity of others. It’s a way to pay that back.”

Gently used household items can be taken to the fire department’s administration building at 2451 Trail Mate Drive in Bradenton between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Southern Manatee Fire Rescue, Southern Manatee Volunteer Firefighters Association and Manatee Adopt-a-Family are coordinating donations.

“Some items have been donated and the family will be taken shopping for items on Saturday,” Perry said in a statement.

For more information, call (941) 751-7675.