Fire displaces family days before Christmas

A fire destroyed a family's home on Saturday afternoon in the 900 block of Lawrence Place in Lake Station. The community has donated Christmas gifts for the mother and her two children. 

Jeff Dildine, The Times

CROWN POINT — A mother and her two young children were greeted Christmas Eve with a firetruck brimming with gifts, a solace for the family whose home was destroyed by fire Saturday.

The red-and-white firetruck arrived at noon Sunday at the Crown Point home where Samantha Roth and her two young children are living after their own trailer home in Lake Station was destroyed Saturday afternoon.

Jeannie, 7, and Daniel, 5, flitted underfoot as Lake Station firefighters unloaded the family's presents.

Samantha Roth used her cellphone to record the moment.

“They were just ecstatic,” Roth said. “Jumping and smiling and laughing. Everything they opened — I couldn't describe the joy.”

Roth, 27, is a case manager at VNA Hospice in Valparaiso. She was with her children at the park about 1:20 p.m. Saturday when her trailer home in Mansard Dulac Mobile Home Park became engulfed in flames. The fire destroyed the home and everything within it, including the family's Christmas presents.

Lake Station Fire Chief Chuck Fazekas said the cause of the fire remained under investigation Sunday.

The Fire department and community pulled together to save the Roth family's Christmas, with monetary and gift donations pouring into the Lake Station Fire Station 1. The gifts delivered Sunday were purchased by members of the Fire Department's Ladies Auxiliary using the community's monetary donations.

The American Red Cross has also contacted the family, providing money for a hotel room, if needed in the future, and basic necessities, according to Kristin Marlow-Kellemen, executive director of the American Red Cross' Northwest Indiana Chapter. Marlow-Kellemen said the organization would be helping the family throughout the recovery process.

Roth, who is 15 weeks pregnant, said her children received new clothes, toys and shoes Sunday.

“It's made their entire year,” she said.

Roth has created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for furniture and a security deposit for a new home. The campaign raised $600 by Sunday afternoon.

“It's a godsend,” Roth said.

Donations can be made by visiting

The American Red Cross attempts to be on-site as quickly as possible in the event of a home fire. Anyone who needs disaster assistance can contact the organization at 888-684-1441.

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Courts and social justice reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.