A structure fire in a home off Racetrack Road early Thursday morning may have ignited from a plug-in space heater.
The house, located on the 11000 block of Harrison Drive, was gutted and the family’s belongings destroyed, said resident Sandra Lattin.
It rained for most of the night and early morning, but when the fire began at about 6 a.m., the rain had temporarily ceased.
“Maybe it wouldn’t have been as bad,” Lattin, 40, said. “I don't know what the next step is. I don’t know where to go.”
Also living in the home were Calvin Lattin, Delaynie Lattin, 12, Dallas Lattin, 10, and Brandon Dewitt.
When she awoke Thursday morning, Sandra Lattin immediately smelled smoke.
She followed the smell to an office at the rear of the house and adjacent to the kitchen.
That night, Lattin had plugged in a space heater to keep the family dogs warm through the night, she said.
When she walked through the door she was confronted by a wall of flame ascending toward the ceiling, she said.
Immediately, she and her husband grabbed their children, the dogs, and any clothes or belongings they could get their hands on.
“I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know where to begin with this. It’s your whole life and now it’s gone,” she said.
Cal Fire Public Information Officer Melinda Shoff said in an email that firefighters were dispatched at approximately 6:09 a.m. Eight engines, one water tender and five overheard personnel from Tuolumne County Fire, Cal Fire and the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office responded.
No one was injured in the home.
Shoff said she did not have any additional information about whether rain assisted in extinguishing the fire. She said the cause was still identified as under investigation.
Lattin said the flames, which began in the back office of the house, traveled to the attic, where it ignited the roof.
By late Thursday morning, Lattin surveyed the damage with her friends and family. A dense rain fell through the gaping holes above the office and the kitchen. The living room carpet was inundated. Some furniture was stacked into corners, and a ruddy mass of mud and houseware filled the hallways.
She said it was like a “Catch-22” that the fire could decimate her home only hours before a downpour dropped through Sonora.
“Everything we’ve gotten, everything we’ve done, it’s all gone,” she said. “If it rained, maybe something would have been left.”
By noon, only two fire crews remained and the occupants were boarding their trucks on Harrison Drive and the intersecting street to Racetrack Road, Leland Drive.
Some rooms, like the one belonging to her daughter Delaynie, a Columbia Elementary School student, seemed less damaged than where the fire began. Still, Delaynie Lattin ran to her mother's arms to ask about a box of mementos she said she lost in the confusion.
A Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office press release said another home was evacuated and other homes were given advisories.
Sandra Lattin said the Red Cross visited her in the morning to provide the family with toiletries and a gift card to purchase other essentials.
A family friend, Brandon Stearns, has organized a GoFundMe page to assist the family.