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Neighbors band around elderly couple who lost house in fire

Posted at 8:17 PM, Feb 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 01:23:09-05

With only the clothes on their backs, an Annaville couple in their 80's now are left sifting through ashes to find anything worth saving.

"She didn't have house insurance so, we're just trying to salvage what is salvageable," said the couple's daughter Aida Guzman, who was among the three generations of Kurtz women left to figure out their next step Tuesday.

It was a close call for Anita Valdez Kurtz, and her husband, Al, early Tuesday morning as a fire engulfed their home, destroying almost everything they own.

The couple's two vehicles avoided the flames, but the keys to their cars weren't so lucky. Thanks to the owner of Vans Mechanic Shop, new keys were made for the Kurtzes free of charge.

But with no homeowners insurance, the loss is devastating for the Kurtzes. However, the man who saved Al's life, will also try and save his home.

Steven Solano's wife co-owns a construction company.

"We're going to try to do what we can to help rebuild their house free of charge," he said. "We're going to ask for donations and supplies and we're going to help them out as much as we can."

But Solano gave the Kurtzes an even better gift Tuesday morning: He ensured Anita and Al both lived to tell the story.

The day began as any other for the Kurtzes: They were still in their pajamas when Anita heard a loud, popping noise coming from the rear of the home.

It was a noise that would change their lives forever.

"Around 8:30 I heard like a shot like a firecracker," Anita said. "It started in the washer and the dryer in the back."

When she heard the noise, she said she thought her husband, who was in the bathroom, had fallen. As she rushed to see if he was OK, her living room filled with smoke.

She said she hurried out of the home to call 911.

Her husband was still inside as the fire grew stronger and the smoke got thicker.

Solano was on his way to get breakfast with family when he noticed smoke billowing from the home and pulled over to help.

"They said there was a man in (the house)," he said. "I went in there and found the old gentleman, the owner of the house. I picked him up, carried him to the front door and we got him out safely."

Solano told KRIS 6 News he was a volunteer firefighter in 2002, and instinct took him into the burning home.

"There was a lot of smoke and there open flames in the back," said Solano. "I went in there and said 'Fire department, call out'. I finally saw a shadow, and he was hunched over and I picked him up."