By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY – Staff Writer
The Malone family lost their home when the house next door exploded and caught their home on fire in the middle of the night on Aug. 18. The family had to flee their Lake Arrowhead home immediately. They called 911 for the fire department to respond, as did neighbors.
County Fire reportedly took a while to arrive due to an alleged mix-up at the dispatch center of getting and dispatching the call. A neighbor had to drive to the fire station to inform them of the fire and get them to respond. Upon arrival, the fire hydrant next to the house was inoperable and extra hoses had to be laid to another hydrant. This took extra time to start putting out the fire.
Some community members are now asking whose responsibility it is to verify that all hydrants are functioning at all times Others wonder if their hydrant is functioning and are asking how to have it checked.
The Malone family was suddenly without anything, just the sleep clothes on their back, as their home was reduced to rubble. There are three daughters – Ashlynn, Rhylee and Sumerle – who had started the school year at Rim schools the previous week. Their mother, Suzanne, works at Mt Calvary Lutheran Church and is a dance instructor at the Lake Arrowhead School of Dance, while Mark Malone is the IT coordinator for the Rim school district.
The family is active in many community activities and was suddenly homeless and needing clothes, food, shelter and absolutely everything else. They are able to stay at Suzanne’s sister’s house for a short time but need to find a place to rent as soon as possible. Then they will need furniture, kitchen appliances and everything else.
The family is currently seeking to find a three-bedroom, two-bath house as a full time rental until they can rebuild. Mark Malone’s father, John Malone, had also resided with the family. The house held three generations of the Malone family, which is why they would like a three-bedroom home to rent.
Since they must still pay the mortgage on their burned down home and other bills, they cannot afford more than $2,000 a month. It was suggested that an underutilized, furnished Airbnb near Lake Arrowhead Village would be the perfect solution for them. If an STR owner is looking for a stable long-term renter and wants to assist this family, they could contact either the family or realtor Steve Valentine of Capre Realty at [email protected].
A friend, Lacey Ursich, immediately set up a GoFundMe page for the family at https://gofund.me/47ed4c77 “Malone Family Fire” as their need is immediate and desperate. At the writing of this article an outpouring of community love is being felt, as there have been over 400 donations of amounts from $10 to $500 each. Every donation will help. The fund is still $10,000 under meeting their immediate needs.
The need for clothes for the girls and the family was addressed by the Lake Arrowhead Community Presbyterian Church, whose members went through their donations of clothing for their Country Faire. They donated some to them so the girls may attend school and the parents may go to work.
Rhylee and Sumerle are students at the Lake Arrowhead School of Dance. Several people came into Lake Arrowhead Village’s Studio Boutique store, owned by dance school owner Sharon McCormick, to donate some funds so the Malone girls could have dance clothes. McCormick is donating the tuition for the fall 2023-24 dance classes and coordinating other donations to the family. Since they are involved in The Nutcracker ballet, which will be performed in December at the San Manuel Theater in San Bernardino, McCormick has said she will ensure the girls are able to continue classes and even donated some dance and school clothes to all three girls. Their school friends have given them school items but, until the family finds a suitable place to live, they do not need furniture yet.
Rim High has donated some sweatshirts and other clothing to the girls to enable them to continue to attend school. Numerous teachers have been motivated to donate to the GoFundMe site to help the family get back on their feet.
It is possible that in the future that some fundraiser ideas, such as a concert, may be needed as the rebuilding of a home is a long-term project. They will need architectural design help to get rebuilding plans, and even may need some legal advice on dealing with their insurance company.
It is unknown why the house next door – a short-term rental – exploded. It has. been reported that gas was smelled the in the days prior to the explosion, but that the gas company had come out to turn off the gas to the house.
McCormick has said the best way to help the family is to donate to the GoFundMe page: https://gofund.me/47ed4c77. As Suzanne has said, they will get through this situation, but they will never be able to forget, as this tragedy and loss will affect them for the rest of their lives.