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Family has no resources to rebuild life after fire
The raging May 16 inferno that destroyed a double-wide mobilehome unit in Las Casitas Mobilehome Park created problems for not just its displaced occupants but its owner, neighbors and the park as well.

Six years ago Don Bubeck and his wife Susan tapped into their retirement fund to invest $33,000 into the 1972 mobile home so their grown foster son could live in it with his wife and children. The unit was insured against fire loss during the time he was paying off a private loan but insurance was dropped when the mortgage was paid. Because he was unable to reinstate insurance, the fire was a complete loss for Bubeck, who is retired and disabled. Choking on that loss, Bubeck must pay $4,500 in clean-up costs once the Ceres Fire Department is finished with its investigation.

Las Casitas park owner Scott Kane said he and the other residents are anxious to rid the park of the rubble, including a Honda passenger car damaged under the carport.

"It just doesn't look good," commented Kane.

Investigators believe the fire may have been deliberately started on the front porch of unit #9. Ceres Fire Chief Brian Nicholes said the fire burned through a rubber line on the propane gas barbecue unit stored on the porch which helped fuel flames. The barbecue, however, was not the cause of the fire.

Police are looking into leads and possible suspects, said Nicholes. He said the fire did not appear to be racially motivated.

The African-American family of four - which says it has no known enemies - escaped the fire. A 7-year-old girl saw the light from the flames as she got up to use the bathroom and roused her parents and five-year-old brother. They fled out the back door, which created a backdraft.

The displaced family has temporarily moved in with Bubeck at his Waterford residence. That, in itself, is creating problems for the Bubecks who also have a 15-year-old foster son living there. Child Protective Services says there are not enough bedrooms to satisfy the foster care rules involving the 15-year-old.

"There is a whole ritual for them to stay here at all," said Bubeck.

The family is appealing to the community "for some financial aid to put them into another home," said Bubeck, who sustained a broken neck in a car wreck years ago.

The Bubecks have no money for a deposit and first and last month's rent to get the displaced family in an apartment or home.

"We're just tapped out. I gave so much to the community and I hate to ask but my family really needs help," said Bubeck, a former Ceres Youth Baseball coach who helped build the ball fields at Smyrna Park and the Salvation Army Red Shield Center in south Modesto.

A special account has been set up at Bank of the West. Donations are being accepted for #018843896 held by Donald and Susan Bubeck.

Calvary Baptist Church in Modesto and Carroll Fowler Elementary School have held drives to replace the children's belongings and clothing, said Bubeck, who often bought shoes for poor children and took them on vacations during his life.

Unable to have children themselves, the Bubecks have taken in about 30 foster children during their lifetime, many of them African-American and Latino.

Bubeck, a Vietnam War veteran, has suffered a series of misfortunes. They lost an adopted son, Timothy Bubeck, in 2003 after a spider bite sent him into septic shock. The lifelong Ceres resident broke his back about eight years ago and sustained a debilitating May 14, 2009 car crash on Hickman Road where he sustained head trauma and major head trauma.