Salem family planning to rebuild after arson destroys home

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 9:28 PM PDT
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SALEM Ore. (KPTV) - A Salem family says they plan on rebuilding following a house fire that authorities determined to be arson.

The Salem Fire Department says firefighters responded to a house fire in Southeast Portland around 12:35 p.m. Friday afternoon. SFD states they “responded to the fire which started on the porch but then quickly engulfed a large portion of the home. Residents quickly evacuated the dwelling and reported no injuries. One firefighter is receiving medical treatment for minor injuries received at the scene.”

Xochitl Muñoz says she was inside her home when the fire started.

“I was actually in the shower when all of this happened, said Muñoz. “When I turned off the shower, I heard banging on my door and I looked out to see what was going on and I saw smoke and flames already at the front of the house where the front door was. I just threw on some clothes and ran out the back door. It took me a second to figure out what was going on and then I just got really scared. I was still a little bit in disbelief. Like I can’t believe this is happening.”

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Muñoz says they had just finished renovating their home two months ago.

“The insurance says it is pretty much a full loss,” said Muñoz. “We were able to get some clothes out, some pictures, things like plates and dishes that are salvageable, but nothing else. We are in a hotel right now and are just hoping to rebuild. We are still working with our insurance to figure out what that’s going to be, if it’s going to be a total demo and do over or if they are going to be able to fix what’s already there.”

Investigators determined the fire to be arson, saying it was started by a lit sparkler placed in a Halloween decoration. Salem Police say a 16-year-old was arrested and is facing several charges, including reckless endangering. He was booked into the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center.

“I feel really sad for him,” said Muñoz. “We are thinking it wasn’t malicious, but it was a mistake. A really big mistake. It’s sad for his family too.”

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She says right now they are focusing on their popular restaurant, La Margarita, in downtown Salem. She says several customers and neighbors have reached out, something she is grateful for.

“It’s been a difficult time, but so many of our neighbors have reached out to us and even customers that have found us that was us, so it’s been really neat to see that,” said Muñoz. “I just want to say thank you. Thank you for the support, our neighbor across the street who just let me stay at her house while all this is going on because we didn’t have a place to go. People came up and gave us their phone number wanting to offer support later on if we need it. They brought us snacks. It’s just been really neat.”