If it's true that bad luck travels in threes, Debra Roach and her family ought to have reached the end of their run.
In October, Roach's father, Ivan Evans, died. Relatives, many of whom live in the same West Valley mobile-home park, pulled together and pooled money to pay for his burial.In November, Roach lost her job. About that same time, her boyfriend, Joe Valdez, was laid off his construction job at the Little Dell Dam site.
All this in so short a time would take the starch out of most people, but Roach and Valdez, determined to have a nice Christmas with their three children, wrapped and piled packages under their Christmas tree.
Early Tuesday morning, a little neon beer sign sitting on top of the refrigerator shorted out and started a fire in the trailer Roach bought four years ago.
Roach said Valdez asked her, "What are you burning?" "I said, `I'm not burning anything.' "
They ran to the kitchen. But by then, the trailer was aflame. "It burned like a candle," she said.
Valdez ran to the bedroom where his 12-year-old sonwas sleeping in the bottom bunk. Valdez's 15-year-old son was not in the trailer at the time. Roach's 7-year-old son usually slept in the top bunk, but Monday night he was with his grandmother, who lives in the same mobile home court.
That was the start of what Roach hopes will be a run of good luck. "Thank God he stayed at my mother's house," she said, "because his bed was on fire."
Roach, Valdez and his son ran out into the snow. A neighbor found some shoes for them, and Roach's aunt, who also lives in the mobile home park - as does Roach's brother - gave them some clothes to put on.
They lost everything. The fire swallowed their Christmas gifts and their tree, their clothes, furniture, the trailer. Fire officials estimated the loss at $20,000.
"Everything's gone. We don't even have shoes," said Roach. "There's nothing to salvage. Even the doors burned."
They don't have insurance. When her dad died, Roach said, she had to choose between helping to pay for his funeral or paying her premiums.
Explaining all this, Roach sounds cheerful. After her trailer burned, she said, she had listened to her family tell her how lucky everyone was to escape the fire unhurt. That helped her set her priorities.
The fire victims still hadn't slept by Tuesday night. But the Red Cross had gotten them housing in a Murray hotel, where they will stay for three nights. The Red Cross is also going to pay their rent for a month. Roach and Valdez will begin looking for a new home Wednesday.
"If we just get a house, Christmas will be OK," Roach said. "I'm just glad we're alive."