Unexpected House Fire Changes An Akins Sophomore’s Life


Diego Rivera

Henry Dominguez takes in the scene as firefighters extinguish the flames. The Dominguez families’ house caught fire on September 1, 2015.

Bradley Barto, Staff Writer

As sophomore Henry Dominguez sat in his fourth period World History Studies class, he received an unexpected call from his sister, telling him frantically that his house had caught fire. When the call ended all he could do was wait for school to end that day and worry.

The fire, which happened at about 3:55 p.m. on Sept. 1, started on the side of the house and spread up to the second floor. It began around 3:55 p.m.

After a panicked neighbor noticed smoke/fire, Dominguez’s family members who were home safely evacuated the house. Firefighters were called at the time and dispatched to the house immediately. The house fire was put out around 4:45 p.m. with an estimate of $250,000 in damage.

The family believes it could have been an electrical problem, but there has not been an official determination of the cause. They said it could have also been something flammable in the trash can, but the fire took place on Tuesday and the trash can was emptied on the day before.

The house and most of his family’s possessions were unsalvageable in the debris left by the fire. Since the fire, many friends, family members and fellow Akins students and staff have helped out the Dominguez family. Dominguez’s friend, senior Diego Rivera, set up a GoFundMe Webpage for the family to help them recover from the fire. The site has generated $2,250 in pledge donations to the family since going online on the same day as the fire.

Rivera said he doesn’t have a specific monetary goal in mind to help the family.

“I saw what happened and it was really hard to watch them go through something like that,” he said. “I just wanted to help in anyway that I could.”

Rivera has been working with a family friend and a local church to have physical donations.

Dominguez said that while it was really difficult at first, he and his family are getting back on their feet.

“It was tough because I had lost my old notes, some school supplies and class projects that I was almost finished with,” he said.

Despite the traumatic event, he said the generosity he and his family has received from friends, neighbors and classmates has helped immensely.

As well as all the help that Dominguez has received from family, Akins Student Support Social Services office has been helping. People like social worker Colleen Arnold and parent support specialist Toni Salazar have been working to help students when situations like this happen or like with the floods two years ago.

Arnold and the rest of her social workers will first try and help the students emotionally, making sure that they get as much support as they need. The social workers will then try to help the family get back anything they might have lost such as clothes, textbooks and supplies.

“Honestly, it makes me feel better with how helpful people have been because I honestly didn’t expect getting as much help or support that me and my family have been receiving,” he said.