“The smoke woke me up,” said Andrew Luke of the early morning of Friday, Jan. 30. “I walked out onto the deck off the upstairs bedroom and I could see the glow of the fire and could hear it below, the backdraft.”
It was 2 o’clock in the morning and Luke screamed for help. He described going back into the bedroom, now all smoke-filled, to find his 2-year-old son, Wyatt. “I couldn’t see anything. It was pitch black.” He said he could feel the panic rising because he could not see where his son was. Then he heard Wyatt’s voice.
Luke said he moved to the voice, scooped Wyatt up in his arms, went out the bedroom slider to the second floor deck and jumped to the ground below, all the while holding Wyatt tightly.
Luckily, Luke had his mother’s car parked on the street. Barefoot, he buckled Wyatt in the car, and drove to his mother’s house on Tollgate and called 911. Leaving Wyatt with his Mom he returned to the house to warn his landlords who lived next door, to make sure they got out of their house in case the fire spread. He arrived back just as engine companies from Idyllwild Fire, Riverside County Fire stations 23 (Pine Cove) and 53 (Garner Valley) and Volunteer Company 621 were pulling in. Although firefighters battled through the night to save the house, it was a complete loss. Both Luke and his son were transported to Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage for evaluation and treatment for smoke inhalation.
“So many things we lost,” said Luke. “Pictures, personal items, my son’s Christmas presents and his soft blanket he loved.”
Luke, a carpenter and handyman by trade, lost all but his most hardened metal tools.
“I’m so overcome by the amount of help we’ve received so far,” said Luke, noting the cash donations, a Red Cross gift card for $450 that Rick Foster and Nancy Layton brought by. “They came by a couple times,” said Luke, “bringing blankets that the quilters [Mountain Quilters of Idyllwild] had made and some care packages.”
Luke’s mother, Kelly Hopper, is coordinating donations. Tools (see list) can be dropped at her house, 53675 Tollgate, and donations can be sent to Luke at P.O. Box 401, Idyllwild 92549 or c/o of Kaarin Elizabeth, memo “For Andrew Luke,” at P.O. Box 3153, Idyllwild. Luke and Wyatt are currently staying with Luke’s mother.
Friend Kaarin Elizabeth, who created a social media campaign to help Luke and Wyatt, had hoped to raise $1,500 for the family. To date, about $500 has been raised.
Luke can’t work without his tools. Below is a list of the most important tools he needs in order to work:
- 18v cordless drill w/charger
- sawzall corded or cordless
- 18v cordless impact driver w/charger
- air compressor and hoses
- worm-drive Skilsaw
- nail guns
- orbital palm sander
- various hand tools such as crescents, channelocks, pipe wrenches, pipe cutters, hammer, speed square, level etc.
“I am typically a Milwaukee [tool brand] guy and most of the tools that were lost in the fire were Milwaukee, but right now I need to be able to work so anything anyone has to offer would be more than appreciated,” said Luke. He also mentioned that he and Wyatt are in need of a place to stay, preferably a one-bedroom in the $600 per month range. “We can’t stay at Mom’s forever,” said Luke.
If you have questions or need more information, Luke can be reached on his cell phone, 951-531-6553 or at 951-659-5909.