Community steps up after Camp Pendleton house fire kills girl

By Gretel Krovach | Sign On San Diego | | September 6, 2011

Camp Pendleton, CA – The day after a house fire destroyed a Camp Pendleton home last week and killed a Marine’s 13-year-old daughter, the donations started pouring in. Furniture, sheets, pots and pans, meals, school supplies for the surviving siblings, and gift cards.

Those are a few of the items contributed by Camp Pendleton Marines and sailors, civilians and strangers from neighboring towns, and organizations that wanted to comfort and support the family.

A Marine Corps family readiness officer coordinated the donations to prevent duplicate items and further stress on the grieving survivors. The Armed Services YMCA-Camp Pendleton, the Semper Fi Fund and Camp Pendleton Rotary Club were among those who stepped in with immediate offers to help.

“There has been a really significant outpouring of support. Not only from the military community here at Camp Pendleton, but also from the local community that surrounds the base. It’s just been overwhelming,” said George Brown, executive director of the base YMCA. His organization alone has collected more than $5,000, which was used for basic furniture items and a fund for the family to buy more when ready.

“I always felt that the San Diego community at large is supportive of anybody who goes through tragedy. They responded like I thought they would. It’s a nice thing to see,” Brown said.

The fire broke out about 6:30 a.m. Thursday in the single-family home of a Marine who lives in the O’Neill Heights military housing area on base. A Camp Pendleton firefighter suffered burns and smoke inhalation battling the blaze. As of Wednesday the cause of it was still under investigation, said 2nd Lt. Ryan Welsh, a base spokesman.

The Marine Corps, out of respect for the family’s request for privacy, has not released the girl’s name.

The family has been relocated into a new home. A private celebration of life ceremony is planned for the girl tonight, and funeral services are pending.

Tax-deductible donations for the family made out to Armed Services YMCA-Camp Pendleton, with “fire support/funeral” in the memo line, may be mailed to the organization at: P.O. Box 555028, Building 16144, Camp Pendleton, CA, 92055-5028; or visit, click the donate button, and enter “fire support” in the category option.

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