Fire displaces family, pets in Palm Beach Co.

Fire displaces family, pets in Palm Beach Co.

A family in the Acreage is counting their blessings after a house fire destroyed their home Thursday night.

Fire crews say the house on Avocado Boulevard is a total loss.

Storm shutters still on the windows made it difficult for them to rescue several beloved parrots that died in the fire but a mother and her son made it out alive.

"We are glad to be out," said Brenda Walstad.

With just the clothes on their backs, Brenda and her teenage son, Bryce Sabinson, are grateful.

"It's what we can do. And you gotta go on," she told WPTV on Friday.

Their home burst into flames Thursday night after fire crews say an electric cord sparked in the boy's room.

"I just needed to try and smother the fire first as much as I could and then try to wake her up and save the animals," said Bryce.

Bryce saved two dogs but burned his feet in the process.

"But we couldn't get the birds out so I had five parrots that died. I mean, I've had them for 20 years," said Brenda.

To make matters worse, the house was paid off but they have no insurance. Bryce is also leaving in two months to serve in the marines.

"It's heartbreaking. You have someone who is about to serve our country and he doesn't even have a home to live," said Luis Garcia, a retired paramedic and firefighter who stopped by the house on Friday to assist the family.

The community is stepping up to help, starting with Garcia -- who gave Bryce clean shoes and socks to cover the burns on his feet.

"I thought it was really nice. It was starting to hurt to walk. Had to walk a little bit funky," said Bryce.

"People are so giving to somebody they don't even know," said Brenda.

Garcia said storm shutters and clutter hindered the fire crews. It's reminder to others to think ahead before disaster strikes.

"You can't get out during an emergency and firefighters can't get in," he said. "If your shutters are still up, it makes it easier for the next event -- but life threatening for the next fire."

For now, Brenda and Bryce are trying to stay positive.

"We've got people that are coming in and helping us and helping me keep my head on straight," said Brenda.

The two will be staying with relatives until they can find a new home.

"I think the marine corps will be a fresh start for me," said Bryce. "We are very gracious for all of the care people have shown us."

A fund has been set up in their name at Wells Fargo banks, under the name "Brenda and Bryce Fire Victim Fund."

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