Family in Golden Gate Estates loses home, memories in brush fire: ‘Very thankful to God’

Reporter: Tiffany Rizzo Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

While the brush fire that raged across Collier County over the weekend is 90% contained as of Monday afternoon, the Romero family lost everything in the flames. Their pickup truck will never run again, and all that’s left of the house is the frame.

Oscar Romero says his wife was still in the house when the fire surrounded it. The Romeros lived in the home for 13 years. Oscar came to the U.S. from Colombia in 1996 with nothing and worked hard for years before buying a beautiful home for his family.

“I saw how much this man worked, you know, for me and for the home,” said Jefferson Romeo, Oscar’s son. “And seeing it all gone, and knowing where they came from, knowing where he came from, coming to this country with nothing… it’s not easy. But I know God has much better things for him and for us, and for everyone that was affected. I’m just happy that he’s here and my mom is here and that I’m able to hold them and kiss them, because they mean the world to me.”

The Romeros’ destroyed Golden Gate Estates home. Credit: WINK News

The Romeros must, in a way, start all over again with nothing, but they do have each other. Jefferson was in North Carolina when he heard the news and saw the flames engulfing his parents’ home. He says he felt helpless and hopped on a flight home as soon as he could.

“I came home to this, and that was my room,” Jefferson said, standing in the ruins of the house. “And I’m just very thankful to God that my mom is alive because when I got the phone call, they just said, ‘Hey, the back of the house is on fire and mom is inside, and she doesn’t want to get out.’ And I live in North Carolina, so I really didn’t know what to do. I just got on my knees and prayed. And, thanks to God, he sent an angel, and the cop was able to get her out just in time, and she’s alive. And that’s what matters to me the most.”

Religious statues left charred in the ruins of the Romeros’ house. Credit: WINK News

Jefferson is trying to help his parents pick up the pieces. Oscar has a hard time talking about the event.

“I can’t say anything,” Oscar said. “I am sorry.”

While his home is gone, Oscar is mostly upset about what his wife went through.

“My wife right now, she’s in shock… nothing I can do for my wife,” Oscar said.

“She’ll be OK and then frantically start crying,” Jefferson said. “Saying, ‘my casita,’ you know, ‘my home.’ She’s just… she hasn’t been back here.”

Oscar Romero and his son Jefferson in front of the ruins of their home, destroyed by a brush fire in Golden Gate Estates. Credit: WINK News

The Romeros believe that the Collier County Sheriff’s deputy who got Mrs. Romero out of the house is a hero.

The family has not decided whether to rebuild or move on. For now, they’re just thankful none of them were hurt in the fire.

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