Local News

Neighbors act quickly to help children in Raleigh house fire

Posted January 21, 2015

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— Shawanda Valdivia was at work when she received a devastating call at about 5 p.m.

Her Piedmont Drive home was on fire – with five of her children inside.

“I couldn’t breathe,” she said.

The fire started in the kitchen when an unattended pan on the stove caught fire.

“I heard the first two fire trucks come down the road, stepped outside and you can see through the side window that the kitchen was pretty engulfed in flames,” said Brian Zuctari, a neighbor.

Valdivia’s five children were able to quickly escape, but only with what they were wearing.

“They didn't have shoes on, coats or jackets or anything,” said Stephanie English, a neighbor. “We brought them over to the house and we gave them shoes, clothes, everybody, you know to keep everybody warm.”

Valdivia said she was appreciative of her neighbors’ efforts.

“I don't care about that material stuff, that comes and goes,” she said. “But my babies lives, don't.”

Along with Valdivia and her five children, three other adults live in the home.

The American Red Cross is helping the family with temporary lodging.


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  • busyb97 Jan 22, 2015

    View quoted thread

    WRAL on the TV news last night mentioned this. Not sure WHY they didn't include that fact in the online article...they just knew someone would jump on that tiny detail.

    By the way, state of NC does not have a minimum age for which children can be left home alone. I checked once! We had neighbors who would regularly leave their then 6 and 8 yrs old boys home alone for hours, and they'd be cooking, or going around the neighborhood, etc. Sometimes a grandmother was there, but alot of times, they said no one was home.

    In this case, 3 of the 5 were old enough to be home and cooking. They just did what many of us have done- and unfortunately, it resulted in a fire. Glad everyone was ok.

  • Dianna Oldom Aubin Jan 22, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    according to the news and observer her kids are ages 2, 8, 13, 17, and 21

  • Obama-in-2016 Jan 22, 2015

    Hopeful they had renters insuarance!

  • peace2u Jan 22, 2015

    Five children home alone? Who was cooking? How old were they?

  • Lysander Jan 22, 2015

    Hope all is well! Well done neighbors!

  • Linda Kerns Kellogg Jan 22, 2015
    user avatar

    Thank goodness for neighbors who care...it's nice to see.

  • apollocreed Jan 22, 2015

    Why did you automatically assume they are renters?

  • Ginger Lynn Jan 22, 2015
    user avatar

    I hope they had insurance. Renter's insurance is really cheap, about $12 a month.

  • delilahk2000 Jan 22, 2015


  • daisy Jan 22, 2015

    So glad everyone made it safely out of the house. I know the household items are just material things but it's still devastating when a fire destroys your home.

    It's something that stays with you. I would randomly look for things over the years that I knew I had but then I would remember: "oh yeah" that it was in the fire.