A house fire on the 400 block of Ennis Ave in Nyssa left a home a total loss. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)

NYSSA – Pete Urrutia was driving to visit his uncle Rodolfo Almaraz when he saw the smoke in the distance.

As he got closer Urrutia knew it was coming from his childhood home. He also knew his uncle could still be inside.

“I was ready to run in and grab him,” said Urrutia, but then he saw his uncle and cousins safely standing by a tree across the street, watching as their home burned.

Almaraz, a former police officer with the Nyssa Police Department, lived in the house with his partner Miriam and three grandkids ages 3, 4 and 6. Almaraz and the two youngest children were inside the home at the time of the fire that started around noon, but they all got out with only minor injuries.

Only medics were on the scene when Urrutia arrived at the home in the 400 block of Ennis Avenue in Nyssa, but firefighters responded quickly, setting off alarms and receiving help from the fire departments in Ontario and Parma. The crews were on site for several hours. 

It was the first house fire of the summer and the first total loss of the year in Nyssa, according to Nyssa Fire Chief Eric Manchaca. 

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

Shortly after the fire the Nyssa Christian Fellowship Church across the street from the home put out a call for donations of cash, gift certificates, clothes, shoes or other items. Anyone interested in donating can call the church at 541-372-5093.

Estela Urrutia has owned the Ennis Ave. house – the white walls now darkened by smoke – since 1980.

“This was the house where I raised my three kids,” she said. She moved out about three years ago after her brother, Almaraz, needed a place to stay.

“He’s my youngest brother, so I’m always concerned that he gets the best care,” Urrutia said. 

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It was Almaraz that she had on her mind when she was at work and her son Pete called her from the house on Ennis Ave.

From Pete’s panicked voice, Estela could tell something was wrong. Pete is expecting a child any day now and Estela thought Pete was calling to let her know her daughter-in-law’s water had broken. 

But it was the house. Her priority was her brother’s safety. Pete, now 23, took the house fire hard, she said. 

“I grew up in this house, I’m seeing all my memories burn away,” Pete Urrutia said as he inspected the aftermath.

Kathy Oliver was heading to the Nyssa Food Pantry where she works as a manager when she saw the dark cloud of smoke coming from the area of her daughter’s home. 

“It was so black, the closer I got the more I started running,” Oliver said. 

She knows the Urrutia’s home well. The families have been next-door neighbors for 38 years; they’ve raised their kids together, Oliver said. 

This past Fourth of July, barbecue and fireworks took place in front of both homes. 

Oliver’s family home was untouched by the fire except for some scorched bushes that lined the fence. 

On the cement walkway in front of the Urrutia home, a pair of Spiderman themed toddler shoes lay melted from the heat. Inside, the remnants of a dining table and chairs stood amid the burned belongings. 

The front edge of a car bought just a few months ago sat melted and charred. 

Toward the back of the home, the roof caved in.

The smoke was so bad that the family dog remained leashed in the backyard until firefighters could clear the area enough to go rescue him. 

For the Urrutias seeing the home this way was painful, but "It's all material stuff," said Estela.

A house fire on the 400 block of Ennis Ave in Nyssa left the home a total loss. A car the family purchased a few months ago was also damaged. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)

A house fire left a home on the 400 block of Ennis Ave in Nyssa a total loss. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)

Only minor injuries were reported. Three children, ages 3, 4 and 6 resided in the home. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)

Fire crews from Nyssa, Ontario and Parma responded to the scene and were on site for several hours. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)

Fire crews from Nyssa, Ontario and Parma responded to the scene and were on site for several hours. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)

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