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A fire destroyed two buildings in an apartment complex on Line Street Jan. 6, leaving dozens of Hollister residents suddenly without homes over the weekend, according to city officials. 

In the days since the blaze, an outpouring of donations and community support for the victims—driven by City Hall and area organizations—has been “awe-inspiring,” City of Hollister staff said on Monday. 

The Hollister Fire Department responded to the residential structure fire about 4pm Jan. 6. Two apartment buildings—each containing four units—on the 800 block of Line Street were burning when the first crews arrived, according to Hollister Fire Chief Rodney Dover. 

A total of 34 residents from all eight units were safely evacuated from the burning buildings before firefighters extinguished the blaze, authorities said. Two of the residents suffered injuries related to the fire, one of whom was taken to the hospital by ambulance with burns and complaints of respiratory issues. 

No firefighters were injured, according to Dover. 

Dover said one of the buildings, at 851 Line St., was almost a total loss by the time the fire was put out. The other building, at 841 Line St., suffered some fire damage but is “probably repairable.” 

Firefighters think the fire started in the 851 Line St. building. Dover said the cause of the blaze is under investigation. 

Also responding to the blaze were Cal Fire, Gilroy Fire Department and the Aromas Tri-County Fire Protection District.

In the hours following the destructive fire, the American Red Cross responded with emergency services and financial assistance, providing the displaced families with shelter and resources for clothing and food, city staff said. 

City officials who were particularly helpful at the scene were Hollister City Council member Rick Perez and City Manager Dave Mirrione, Dover said. Perez arrived at the Line Street fire shortly after fire crews and “acted as a liaison” between emergency services and the Red Cross. Mirrione helped coordinate assistance for the victims from various city and county departments as well as the Red Cross and local organizations. 

The Community Food Bank of San Benito County provided each family with a $100 grocery store gift card, and the Boy Scouts of America provided blankets. “Generous community members” provided the residents with other donated items, city staff said. 

The city is also partnering with the Community Food Bank to coordinate continued donations and food distribution for the impacted families. The Food Bank hosted a donation drive on Jan. 7 for this purpose. 

“The amount of items and gift cards donated was awe-inspiring,” city staff said on Facebook Jan. 7. “We even had community members donate wrapped toys for the children. All of the families were provided access to take what they needed at this time, received school backpacks for their children, and were all provided with the gift cards that were donated earlier today. Our partners at the Red Cross were able to provide each family with financial support last night as well.”

Furthermore, the Community Foundation for San Benito County has established a fund for those who want to donate money to the affected families. City staff expected the Line Street fire victims to receive the first distribution from this fund by Jan. 8, says an announcement posted by the City of Hollister to Facebook. 

San Benito County officials are assisting in efforts to find temporary housing for the fire victims, and the San Benito County Office of Education will coordinate with local schools to ensure the affected children are supported, according to the city. 

“The City of Hollister is working closely with the affected families to get an inventory of needs, provide resources regarding housing and other assistance, and will provide updates regarding any additional needs,” says a Jan. 6 post on the city’s Facebook page. 

All of the families displaced by the Jan. 6 fire were hosted at City Hall to collect gift cards, groceries and other donated items and assistance. 

The Community Food Bank remains the lead coordinator for donations and gift cards, according to the city. The Hollister Downtown Association will also serve as an official donation site, with others expected to be announced in the coming days, city staff said. 

Donations of money or gift cards are currently the most needed types of assistance, city staff said. 

The Community Food Bank of San Benito is located at 1133 San Felipe Road. The Hollister Downtown Association office is located at 535 San Benito St. 

The Community Foundation for San Benito County’s Line Street fire assistance fund can be found online at tinyurl.com/st83hj9p

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hello
    My family and I like to express our gratitude and fast response from this beautiful town of Hollister in San Benito County !!
    Today January 10th 2024 Rachael will be going in fo skin graphs.
    With this difficult time and situation very stressful & overwhelming as well.
    Our son still not sleeping much and when does, wakes up screaming for ” mom mom mom momma” then cry’s for 20-30 minutes.

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