UPPER FRUITLAND —The daughter of a World War II veteran is asking for help to repair her father's house after a fire damaged the home on Saturday.
On Wednesday, Katherine Charley stood in the kitchen of the two-bedroom house her father, Paul Anderson, built approximately 60 years ago on land located off Old Navajo 36 and about three miles west of the Upper Fruitland Chapter house.
"We're trying to see how much material we can get help with, so we can hurry up and redo," she said.
A large hole was visible in the ceiling, along with exposed electrical wires and charred insulation and roof trusses. Debris was piled on the floor while burned kitchen chairs and pots and pans were pushed to the side. The odor of stale smoke hung in the air.
When the fire started Saturday, Charley said the family was preparing for her father's 93rd birthday party at the Walter Collins Center in Upper Fruitland.
Charley was talking on the phone with her sister, Loretta Anderson, who lives at the house with her husband and grandson. Suddenly, Loretta Anderson said a fire started and then quickly disconnected the call, Charley recalled on Wednesday.
Charley then called one of her sister-in-laws and learned that flames were visible from the roof.
Fire crews from the San Juan County Fire Department in Kirtland responded and extinguished the flames, but the ceiling remains unstable and could still collapse.
The family has not learned the official cause of the fire, but Charley thinks the stove pipe grew too hot, sparking flames.
Despite the fire, the family proceeded with Paul Anderson's party, where he received gifts for his house.
"I know he was worried about his house because when he opened his present, he turned to me and said, 'Where I'm I going to put this?,'" Charley said.
Anderson is a member of the veterans group at Tiis Tsoh Sikaad Chapter. Charley said she has tried contacting the chapter's veterans commander but was told he is on travel to Flagstaff, Ariz., until Friday.
She asked for help from the Navajo Department of Veterans Affairs in Shiprock, which sent a senior carpenter to survey the damage. Charley said she was told no funding is available.
The family also tried contacting the Navajo Housing Authority to see if a place was available in the housing area in Ojo Amarillo, but, Charley said, there was no answer.
The American Red Cross paid for the family to spend four nights at Americas Best Value Inn in Farmington and provided them a preloaded debit card to cover food and clothing costs. The family also received a referral to United Way.
"At the age my dad is, it's going to be hard for him to leave it this way," Charley said, explaining that the house was where her mother lived before her death 10 years ago.
In the meantime, Paul Anderson will stay with Charley at her home in Upper Fruitland.
Loretta Anderson declined an interview on Wednesday but was mopping the living room floor and had the front door open when The Daily Times visited Wednesday. Charley said her sister plans to stay in the house.
Paul Anderson was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the Marshall Islands, Guam, Hawaii, Japan, Korea and China.
After receiving an honorable discharge in 1944, hewent home to Tiis Tsoh Sikaad Chapter. He moved to Upper Fruitland after hearing farming land was available.
He retired about 30 years ago after working as a custodian with the Central Consolidated School District.
"He is a proud veteran," Charley said. "He's proud he served his country."
Wearing a black baseball cap with the words, "USMC never retired, always a Marine," and speaking in Navajo, Paul Anderson said he would appreciate any help because at his age, he cannot repair his house.
"I feel like I have no place to go even though my kids live around here," hesaid in Navajo.
Charley said anyone who would like to help the family can contact her at 505-701-5654.