San Jose fire leaves families homeless for the holidays

This is not what mother of two Paige Roster had in mind as being home for the holiday, as she dressed her newborn daughter, Nora. Roster, her partner, Paul Eischens, and their kids are staying at a Los Gatos motel due to unfortunate fate.

"I’m smelling a weird smell," said Roster. "And the next thing I know, a lady is at my door screaming for help. And I just got on the phone with 911."

A door camera’s surveillance video showed the severity of the situation. On Monday around 10 a.m., a two-alarm fire started in one of four apartments in the 4700 block of Hatfield Walkway.

"It was a harrowing experience. Probably the most stressful, yet scary situation you can experience," said another victim, Sergio Martinez.

Flames tore through one unit, but all four in this McEwan-style development are currently uninhabitable.

Witnesses said they heard a loud bang before seeing flames and smoke. A San Jose Fire Dept. spokesman said the cause of this fire is still under investigation. The ignition source is an upstairs bedroom. The fire was contained to the one unit, but smoke and water damage impacted three other units.

"It’s always hard this time of year. You go in, and there’s Christmas trees and presents. It’s hard. You’re definitely recognizing that it’s going to be more of a loss. We’re just happy everyone was able to get out," said Battalion Chief Brendan Buller of the SJFD.

Not only is the holiday season ruined, but life, in general, is now a struggle. Sergio Martinez said he and his family have no place to go and are couch-surfing.

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"This could have turned out so much worse," he said.

Paige Roster said they’ll first stay with her family for Christmas, then her partner’s for New Year’s. 

"A good cry. He’s a good listener…We try to take it one step at a time, because it gets overwhelming very easily," Roster said when asked how she copes. she said,

Donations from friends and family have provided some of the day-to-day essentials for this family of four. But the people left devastated by this fire know they’ll need much more from many more, if they’re ever to have their own homes, after the holidays.

Paige Roster has an account on the social media site "" to raise money for a rental deposit on a new apartment.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on Twitter @JesseKTVU and Instagram @jessegontv