First responders are always there for us. Last month, it was the community’s turn to be there for Santa Clara police officer Scott Wilson and his family, after the Wilsons lost their home in a fast-burning house fire.
Early in the morning Sept. 30, Wilson and his wife woke up to the smoke of a burning entertainment center. Wilson had to run through that room to get one of his two daughters. The family was able to get out of the house safely, but the fired burned so hot and so fast the house was totally destroyed and the Wilsons escaped with only the clothes on their backs.
Wilson’s colleagues on the Santa Clara Police Department were there for the family immediately. “They started taking sizes of clothing,” said Wilson. “They brought us breakfast. By lunchtime we had new clothes.”
By 10 p.m. the Santa Clara Police Officers Association had set up a GoFundMe page to help the Wilsons bridge the financial gap waiting for insurance settlements and paying immediate bills. They thought of everything, he said. “They were incredible.”
“Within a day my kids had school uniforms, backpacks,” said Wilson. “In the next couple of days we saw such an outpouring of help from fellow officers, friends, family, community groups, St. Lucy’s school.”
Harbro Construction in Hayward (harbro.com), a specialist in post-disaster reconstruction, stepped in to offer the Wilsons free consulting to help with insurance claims and rebuilding their home.
All of the generosity doesn’t minimize the Wilsons’ profound loss. But out of all the loss, there was one miracle.
One thing that Wilson felt most keenly, as all of us would, is the loss of family photographs, the record of our lives and everything meaningful and important in them. “As soon my family was safely in a car, it hit me right away about the photos.”
“I had asked the firefighters, it you can save anything, save my office.” When Wilson was able to get back in the house, everything was ash, with one exception: his office.
Although the plastic melted, his computer was still there. A friend who’s a computer forensics expert was able to reconstruct Wilson’s hard drive. And with it the family’s digital photos and movies. “I broke down crying,” he said. “It hit me that hard. I was so grateful to have all the photos.”
Right now the Wilsons take it one day at a time. They’re about to move from a hotel into a rental house that they hope to stay in until their home is fully rebuilt. Wilson says his wife has requested one thing for their future home: a bay window.
Last weekend they went to their daughters’ volleyball games and took in a school carnival. It’s important to keep the children’s activities as normal as possible, said Wilson. “They were real troopers,” he said. “I’m so proud of them. They were so strong through all this.”
“I want to tell people how blessed we are to have all of them in our lives,” said Wilson. “We’re overwhelmed by their generosity and we’re eternally grateful.”
The Santa Clara POA’s GoFundMe campaign was so successful that it is now closed after raising six times its goal.