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Courtesy Photo The family home in the Taos Canyon is engulfed in flames on January 12, 2024

Family Comforted by Community After Losing Home to Fire

Benita and Lucas Lovato, along with their two precious children Mila and Luke, lost everything in a house fire in Taos Canyon on January 12, 2024. Benita works as a lead nurse with the Taos Municipal Schools and at the emergency room in Espanola, while Lucas works with the New Mexico department of transportation in Eagle Nest.

It was January 12 and Lucas was on his 13th day in a row of working at keeping the roads clear of ice and snow. Benita and their children were home late after a two-hour delay. “I had made a fire that morning and we were just hanging out before it was time to leave for school,” Benita recalls.

It was around 11:30 a.m. that she got a call from their next-door neighbors, telling her that their home was on fire. “I just remember rushing home and while I was on the road, calling my parents, Lucas’ parents, and Lucas, to tell them…”

When Lucas and Benita met their parents at their home, it was fully engulfed in flames. “We had to stand and watch our home and everything we owned burn from noon to about 5:30 in the evening.” The trusses of the home were on fire, which forced the roof to collapse inside.

Dealing with much guilt, Benita says she felt some relief when the fire marshal determined the cause of the fire was due to the back plate of the stove thinning out from repeated use, thereby starting a fire. Its spreading to the walls was inevitable. “He told me, if it hadn’t started during the day, it would’ve started that night when Lucas left for work and me and the kids could’ve been sleeping—so really, the timing of the fire was a blessing,” Benita says.

When the couple saw their kids that evening, they didn’t realize how difficult it would be to break the news to them that their home and belongings were gone. “We told them, and we didn’t think our 4-year-old Luke would take it so hard, but he ended up crying for an hour. His toys and stuffed animals were his life. Mila, our 5-year-old, has a strong faith in God, and she quickly jumped into action, consoling Luke and telling him God will provide,” Benita continues.

Over a month since the horrible ordeal, Benita and Lucas are slowly working to piece their lives back together. The home was a rent-to-own property, therefore they still don’t have a clear path forward on whether they’ll be able to rebuild on the same property or what the insurance will cover. They moved in with their parents in Costilla and Taos in the wake of the fire’s destruction, and are still going back and forth with their two children every week.

During the time of this interview, the family was in Albuquerque buying stuff for their new home. The family was able to find a home to rent in Taos, however, still have not been able to move in, as they do not have most of the necessities such as furniture, beds, sheets, comforters, etc.

When this incident occurred, the community was quick to rally around the Lovato family, establishing a fundraiser for them on GiveSendGo. “The community has been nothing short of amazing. Right now, people have raised a little over $10,000 for us and we have been met with constant support and prayers,” Benita says.

“It’s amazing how quickly your family shows up in a blink of an eye when you need them,” Lucas says. “That has been the biggest part in all this, is to see how quick family and friends are there for you, to buy your kids clothes, or toys, or necessities. It’s been a blessing.”

Recently, the family decided to return to their burned home with their children to see and process what had happened. “It’s just so devastating. There is about four inches of ice and insulation covering all of our belongings. We don’t know if anything is salvageable, and we’ll have to wait until the spring to really know. We don’t think it will be, so we are literally starting from square one,” Benita says.

The family is grateful for the outpouring of support from the community, however, they still have a very long road ahead of them. When asked how the community can continue to support them, they say donations and prayers is the best and surest way they will be able to continue carving their path forward. “We’ve had people ask if we needed things, but honestly, we don’t even know what we need right now. We are starting to figure things out so the donations that have been given to us are being used to help us reestablish ourselves and our lives,” Benita says. “Prayers and well wishes have also been a huge comfort for us. People have shown up for us in the most amazing ways so even when we are in the thick of it, we aren’t alone. I can’t even express in words what that means to us.”

If you would like to support the family financially and stay updated on their story, you can donate at https://www.givesendgo.com/GBKQY. You can also mail checks to 24 Puesta Del Sol, Taos, NM 87571.