Sterling family loses everything in fire
Woman trying to get family back on feet
STERLING – Rachael Rico had one goal when her 7-year-old son told her their home was on fire: Get her family out.
She didn’t bother to grab any belongings. Not her wallet. Not her IDs. Not her photos. The family lost everything.
She; her son, Alex Rico; her 2-month-old daughter, Aliyah Miniel; and their American bulldog all made it out safely from the burning two-story duplex at 1012 First Ave. on July 30.
The Red Cross put the family in a motel for 3 days; now, they’re staying at the home of her mother, Christine Rico.
After the fire, Rico, 26, got some of her belongings from the house, including some recently bought baby clothes. The hangers are melted, and the clothes are smoke-damaged. The items are being stored at the home of Sabrina Davila, the baby’s grandmother.
Rico also recovered what was left of the baby books.
“They’re all black, but I wanted them anyway,” she said.
As for clothes, the family had only what they were wearing. During an interview Friday, Rico wore a striped tank top and dark pants, which she said had been donated.
“The community has been completely supportive. Word of mouth spread quickly,” said Michele Rico, Rachael’s sister. “People started dropping stuff off at Sabrina’s and our mother’s house. A lot of people were generous.”
Among the items were a bed and an entertainment center.
Rico said her family has enough clothes now, but needs some household items, including dressers. They also could use monetary donations to help them get back on their feet.
On Friday, a demolition crew leveled the house.
“They bulldozed it and threw it all away,” said Rico, whose family lived on the first floor.
Ashley Segura lived upstairs with her 4-year-old, Gabriel Segura. Their cat died in the blaze, but a turtle survived, Rico said.
Segura since has moved out of town, Rico said.
Segura was walking around the neighborhood when the fire started. Alex Rico had just asked his mother whether he could go to a friend’s house. She let him.
As he left, he saw smoke coming from their house. He told his mother, and they fled.
“He was a hero,” Davila said.
Rico called 911 and then her loved ones. Davila said she was so frantic when Rico called that she didn’t bother hitting the “end button” on her phone. She just threw it on the floor.
“I didn’t even know where the phone ended up,” she said.
Davila and her fiancé, Vicente Lopez, got into their car and drove to the fire a few blocks away. They were the first ones there, Davila said.
Fire officials suspect the fire started on the exterior of the southeast side of the building, which sustained most of the damage.
The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause. On Friday, a Sterling Fire Department official said the investigation wasn’t completed yet.
How to help
A savings account has been set up at The National Bank in Sterling in the name of Christine Rico, mother of Rachael Rico, who is trying to get back on her feet after a fire at her duplex at 1012 First Ave. in Sterling.
Another account has been set up at Sauk Valley Bank in the name of Charles Burton-Sabrina Davila in care of fire fund. Davila is the grandmother of Rico’s baby.
For more information on how to make donations, call Davila at 815-718-5881.