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Fire destroys toys meant for children at Bakersfield Homeless Center

"Our hearts are a little bit broken."
Fire Destroys Bakersfield Homeless Center Toys, Bakersfield
Fire Destroys Bakersfield Homeless Center Toys, Bakersfield
Fire Destroys Bakersfield Homeless Center Toys, Bakersfield
Fire Destroys Bakersfield Homeless Center Toys, Bakersfield
Posted at 4:03 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 04:11:03-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Thousands of toys donated for children in need who are living at the Bakersfield Homeless Center have been destroyed after a fire Monday in a storage unit.

Around 2,000 toys were being set aside in one of the storage units. The Homeless Center said they were part of the donations received last December. Now all that is left is melted metal and ash, bringing them back to square one.

Fire Destroys Bakersfield Homeless Center Toys, Bakersfield
Images from the Kern County Fire Department show toys meant for the Bakersfield Homeless Center destroyed by a fire.

Lauren Skidmore with the Bakersfield Homeless Center said they are home to about 80 to 100 kids every day and every single donated toy goes to those children. Not only do they distribute during Christmas, but also throughout the year to celebrate birthdays or reward good grades as often parents can not afford to do so.

"We are not able to recuperate anything because the bags that we had the toys in to protect them from the elements are covered in smoke and ash and a lot of the toys were actually burned in the fire," explained Skidmore. "Many think, 'oh it is just a toy.' It can mean everything to moms and children here at the facility. You know, they are fighting for their basic needs. They don’t have anything when they come here. And we try to provide them, just the basics, whether it is shelter, food, clothing, and just special support. And toys like these go a long way."

Fire Destroys Bakersfield Homeless Center Toys, Bakersfield
An image shows the aftermath of a fire that destroyed toys meant for the Bakersfield Homeless Center in Bakersfield, Calif.

The fire started around 2:30 in the afternoon on Monday in a mobile home that the fire department believes was abandoned on the side of the road near the storage unit center. They do not know how the fire happened but did say five storage units were affected. No one was injured.

"It was a mobile home that was on a trailer off of the side of the road on the shoulder. It was well involved with fire and because of the location it was parked at, those flames were now spreading into the mini storage," said Andrew Freeborn with the Kern County Fire Department. "That is certainly a big loss for them to have lost so many toys and other items, that so many volunteers have worked so diligently to collect, so many warm-hearted people in the community have given and now it is lost in the fire."

"Our hearts are a little bit broken," added Skidmore. "We know the community supports our community and supports our cause. And toy donation is just one way the community can support us and seeing all those toys not being utilized or given to a child is really heartbreaking."

The fire department is also trying to help out and will working with the Bakersfield Homeless Center in their efforts making up for this loss. 23ABC is also joining that cause and will be opening our lobby from 9 a.m. in the morning to 6 p.m. in the evening to help collect and make up for the toys lost. The 23ABC studio is located at 321 21st Street in Bakersfield.