According to Montgomery, fire broke out in the family’s mobile home at 2650 E. Superstition Blvd. early on the morning of Sept. 3. When firefighters arrived to extinguish the fire, they found LaBecca Christian and her children 10-year-old Samantha, 8-yearold Brandon and 4-year-old Sean all safely outside the home, he said.
“They didn’t find out until later that Samantha had been a real hero that morning as she had awakened to a popping sound and the smell of smoke, and had quickly alerted her mother and helped shepherd her little brothers out of the home,” he said.
“Samantha Christian is an incredible young lady,” said Deputy Fire Chief Dave Montgomery.
“Because she couldn’t lift her brother Sean, she had him climb on her back and carried him out to safety,” added Montgomery.
Samantha and her mother were both treated at a local hospital for minor smoke inhalation and released later that morning.
Because of the fire damage, the mobile home was not livable so AJFD contacted the Red Cross for assistance for the family, said Montgomery.
With their help, the family was able to get a place to stay for a few days and some of the other living essentials they needed.
Later in the week, it became apparent that the Christian’s mobile home was not going to be able to be repaired for them to move back in any time soon, if at all.
AJFD firefighters and staff also recognized that this fire was different from most, as the family had just recently moved to the AJ area from out of state and had no insurance coverage for their losses. An account was set-up the next day at Wells Fargo Bank to assist, (Acct.#1691139636 in the name of LaBecca Christian).
With the help of AJFD Firefighters and local businesswoman Elise Otero of Otero Realty, a rental home was found.
The Apache Junction UniSchool District’s Project HELP is working with the AJFD to get the family what they need.
“Donations of furniture and other household items have come in all week, and the only thing they will lack to move in will be a refrigerator,” said AJFD Capt. Mark Gomez.
Gomez has led the way in rallying his fellow firefighters in assisting this family. “When you see the determination of this family in the face of the tragedy they are experiencing, we can’t help but want to assist them any way we can,” said Gomez.
With the help of many local merchants, additional donations of cash, goods and services have been collected on behalf of the Christian family.
Donations of clothing can still be dropped off at the Apache Junction Fire District Administrative offices located at 565 N. Idaho Road, Apache Junction, 85119.
In the midst of all the loss and changes in her life, 10-yearold Samantha has become a quiet celebrity. After two days of TV news appearances, she still doesn’t think she was a hero. “I was just helping my family” Samantha said. She is convinced that her grandmother, who recently passed from Heroine, A-1 away, was with her and helped wake her when the fire was still very small. “I know it was my nana that was watching over me, and helped me know to wake up right when I did, so I could help get my family out,” she said.
AJFD joined with the AJUSD and Samantha’s was honored at Four Peaks Elementary School’s Friday, Sept. 7, morning flag ceremony. In addition, she is being invited to receive more public awards during a school governing board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11, and also during the September Fire Board meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 19, in the fire district administrative center.
LaBecca has said that she loves this community and feels very welcome here and wants to stay to raise her family. She has been diligently searching for employment in the accounting field and is optimistic that she will find work quickly, related Montgomery.
To donate to the Christian family, contact the Fire District at (480) 982-4440 or visit the district’s website at www.ajfire.org
By Betty Swanson