The San Miguel Fire Department is drawing community awareness to a GoFundMe page set up for a family of nearly two dozen, many of whom have special needs, that suffered damage to their home and handicap accessible van in a fire.
The damage stemmed from a car fire that broke out at around 4 a.m. Sunday in the driveway of the Hauer residence in the 2700 block of Willow Glen Drive in El Cajon.
As the car burnt to a crisp, Chuck Hauer and his wife Penny activated their evacuation plan so that they, their son Collin and their 17 other special needs children, most of whom are adopted, could get to safety.
Waiting for firefighters to arrive, Chuck and Collin did their best to douse Collin's car with water from the garden hose but it was too little, too late.
By the time SMFD crews got there the car was beyond saving and the raging flames had severely damaged the Hauer's handicap-adaptive van, a portion of the home's roof and a retaining wall.
The van was donated to them in 2014 by the non-profit Passion 4 K.I.D.S. and was paramount in transporting the large family from place to place.
"The van was just a godsend because there aren’t a lot of places that can come and pick you up and take you in a timely manner and Caleb has a lot of doctor's appointments," Penny said referring to one of her children. "They all have a lot of doctor's appointments."
Chuck and Penny Hauer have adopted more than 40 special needs children in their lifetime, and as SMFD firefighters learned of their story and their decades of service to the community, they knew they had to help.
"We raise money with pancake breakfasts and BBQs and things like that but the money we raise is very little," SMFD Captain Kurt Fryling said. "As soon as we found out about the Hauer family, what we could do for them was probably not enough unless we actually really went deeper and really tried to get the community involved."
So, that's what the department is doing.
Everyone at the station is doing their part in spreading the word about the Hauer family and promoting the GoFundMe page set up to help them replace what's been lost.
In addition to that, they're hosting a community BBQ at Mt. Helix Park on Jan. 21 to raise money for the Hauers.