By Per Peterson
Kora Lindberg, who is a little less than a month away from a planned C-section to deliver her third child, didn’t feel right Sunday evening.
Her baby was not moving like usual, and if for nothing more than peace of mind, she felt a trip to the doctor would do her good.
Her boyfriend, Marshall Hippen, headed outside to start the truck so the two could head to the hospital. And that was the end of the quiet portion of the family’s night.
Moments later, Marshall rushed back into the house and alerted Kora that the truck was on fire.
“I hadn’t felt the baby move for about five hours, and usually she’s really active, so I told him to go start the truck, feed the dogs, and let’s go to the doctor,” Kora said. “He went outside to do that and came back in and said the truck is on fire. So I called 9-1-1. He was trying to bring buckets of water out there but … “
Making matters worse for the young couple was the fact that the seldom-used 1989 Ford F250 was parked right next to the garage, and the fire that somehow started under the hood quickly spread to the garage, which is attached to the house the couple has rented since August.
“The 9-1-1 lady was really nice, but I think she really didn’t understand me,” Kora said. “Marshall told (son) Axel to get his coat and his shoes on. Elsie (her other child), she always runs around with no clothes on — she just had a shirt on — so I hurried up and got pants and socks on her, and her coat. By then the garage was on fire.”
Kora said the garage caught fire well before emergency personnel arrived on the scene.
“I told 9-1-1 that the garage was on fire,” she said. “A guy in a white truck pulled up and I asked him if he could take (Elsie) and he did. He was really nice. Axel and Elsie both got into the truck.
Tracy Fire Chief Dale Johnson III said there was minimal smoke damage to the house itself. The TFD called for assistance because at one point, Johnson III said, it was unknown if the fire had breached the attic, which would’ve facilitated the fire spreading.
“We were able to contain the fire to the garage,” he said. “In my opinion, it was one hell of a stop. The wind was out of the south and the garage is on the south side. There were flames in the soffit, but we got into the garage and were able to extinguish the fire before it got into the attic.”
The fire started at 6:23 p.m., and Kora said the family is usually in bed by 7:30 p.m. because Axel has to get on the bus early. “And if the baby would’ve been active like normal, he wouldn’t have never went outside and seen that the truck was on fire,” Kora said. “It’s weird how everything worked out.”
The family is staying at her sister Briar’s house in Tracy for the time being.
“I don’t know what to do,” Kora said. “I really don’t have anything and all of the stuff we do have is in the house and I don’t know what we’re gonna be able to take. “I tried to grab some clothes and stuff for the kids. It was really smoky in there.”
As the popular children’s song “Get Back Up Again” from the “Trolls” soundtrack played to her kids in the background at her sister’s home Monday afternoon, Kora reminded herself that things could’ve been worse.
She and her family are safe, and the baby is healthy.
“I just have really bad luck,” she said, fighting back tears. “”My sister said it’s not my fault, but still … Our landlord has been nice, but I feel bad because it’s her house. It’s a good thing (Marshall) saw it when he did, because there’s no space between the garage and the house,” Kora said. “It’s just right there. All the stuff would’ve just burned up so fast, and the kids sleep in separate bedrooms. It’s not a very long house. I’m thankful though. I can’t smell anything and he’s a heavy sleeper. It sounds weird that the baby wasn’t moving and that’s something I should be thankful for, but it was, like, I needed that. Otherwise we would’ve went to bed and we wouldn’t have even known.”
She said she’s been working with the American Red Cross on getting some help with immediate needs.
The Balaton Fire Department and Garvin Fire Department assisted the Tracy Fire Department, Tracy Police Department and Tracy Ambulance on the scene.
Johnson thanked the neighboring fire departments for their assistance.
“All three departments did a great job,” he said.
• Kora’s sister has set up a YouCaring account to help the young family. Go to https://www.youcaring.com/marshallhippenandkoralindberg-1062923 if you would like to help.