Community rallies to help 71-year-old veteran who lost his home in a fire

A neighborhood in San Ramon is coming together to raise money for a 71-year-old veteran who lost his home in a fire.

Dave Ash said his home suffered major damage in an accidental fire on Monday. The 71-year-old Vietnam veteran was in his garage when he noticed smoke coming from behind his washer and dryer.

“I walked in the door of the family room and this huge wall of black smoke almost knocked me down,” Ash said. “Flames came out after it and I called 911.”

Ash credits San Ramon Valley firefighters for immediately responding. He’s now staying in a hotel with the help of the Red Cross. Ash did not have home insurance.

“I had a rough couple of years,” Ash said. “Last year I chose between electricity and food or fire insurance.”

His neighbors, John and Dina Freij, are hoping to help him rebuild by raising money on this GoFundMe.

“It’s just a sad thing when you see somebody’s house burning down,” John Freij said. “He’s been our neighbor for 30 years.”

Dina Freij said the fundraiser has been a community effort. Several neighbors and friends have donated to the fund, as well as strangers.

“It started because a few neighbors came by and said, ‘What does he need? Can we give him gift cards, money, or socks?’,” Dina Freij said.

Ash said the Freij family are great people and he doesn’t know what he would do without them.

“I just want to say thank you to all the people that have helped… God bless them,” Ash said.