A 26-year-old Boise County woman and her three young children weren’t at their Clear Creek home when a devastating fire broke out Sunday night.
The fire destroyed the small log cabin and everything in it. The family cat died.
“I’m still kind of in shock about it all. The first day was really rough,” said Cassie LaMantia, who moved from Boise to the mountains almost three years ago.
Clear Creek is an area of Boise County that’s 10 to 12 miles southwest of Idaho City. There are about 350 homes in that area, said Clear Creek Volunteer Fire Department Chief Sam Bonovich.
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“It was really good that we weren’t there,” LaMantia said. Her kids range in age from 2.5 months to 5 years old.
That’s because the kids’ bedroom was in the upstairs loft. She shudders to think what could have happened if they’d all been home asleep when the fire broke out. LaMantia was in the process of buying the house and didn’t have homeowner’s insurance. She lost her computer, family photos, baby books, blankets and family heirlooms.
“There’s so little left. We can hardly tell what was from upstairs and what was downstairs,” LaMantia said. “It’s all ashes.”
Bonovich said he and fellow firefighters will help in cleaning up and rebuilding at the site.
“It’s just a sad, unfortunate thing,” Bonovich said. “I got a bunch of carpenters and trade guys. We’ll save her as much money as we can and help her out. We can rebuild her house.”
LaMantia’s sister, Camille Wassom, set up a GoFundMe account to help with the cost of rebuilding her house and life. So far, $445 has been donated toward a $15,000 goal. The family has received many donations of children’s clothing and toys from the community.
The ambulance shed in Idaho City is serving as a donations hub, said Angie Dill, director of operations for the East Boise County Ambulance District. Donations can be dropped off at the office at 204 Commercial Street from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Bonovich said a volunteer firefighter who lives near LaMantia spotted the fire Sunday night, between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The fire had been burning for a while before it was discovered, so the interior was “pretty well engulfed” when the firefighters arrived. Bonovich said they put about 500 gallons of water on the house but it didn’t seem to do much to put out the fire.
They then doused it with another 1,000 gallons, and it still “wasn’t even touching” the fire.
“So we just backed off. There was nothing we could do,” said Bonovich, noting that they also had to stop spraying the back side of the old cabin due to a downed power line. The crew also wanted to reserve their remaining water supply, in case the fire spread beyond the house.
Bonovich said he found nothing suspicious about the fire, which appeared to have started on the inside back of the house. He said the origin was probably electrical.
Wassom, who is assistant chief of the Robie Creek Volunteer Fire Department, said she heard the call about the fire on the radio. A Clear Creek fire official told her it was at her sister’s house. Before she left to go help the firefighting effort, she called her sister — who was in Boise.
“I said, ‘The house is burning down, it’s dark, and there’s nothing you can do,’” Wassom recalled. “She spent the night at her boyfriend’s in town.”
LaMantia and her kids are now living with her parents, who live at Robie Creek.