PERALTA—As a local family mourns the sudden loss of a loved one, they are left trying to remove the destruction left by the fire that took his life.
Shortly before midnight on Monday, May 18, Kayden Niccum, 13, ran out of his house and over to his great-grandmother’s home. The mobile home he shared with his father, Calvin Niccum, 36, was on fire.
“We tried to go in the front door but something exploded,” said Peggy Nicoll, Kayden’s great-grandmother.
Her son tried to go in the back door but the flames stopped him. The three began beating on the exterior walls of the home, shouting Calvin’s name. He never answered.
The cause of the fire that took her grandson’s life is still under investigation, Nicoll said, but she has her own theory. Calvin had recently bought a television with a curved screen, but after a few weeks had to return it — it overheated and caught fire.
“I told him I didn’t think he should get another one, but he did,” she said.
Now the burnt rubble that was Calvin and Kayden’s home needs to be taken off the family’s property on Molina Road, where Nicoll lives in a second mobile home with Kayden.
While the steel frame and axles under the building are still sound, the walls and flooring were so damaged it’s dangerous to tow, she said.
“We have to have somebody tear it down there,” she said.
The companies she’s contacted estimate it will cost about $10,000 to remove the home, but before that can happen, all the insulation needs to be removed.
She and Kayden have been trying to do that a little at a time. So far they’ve made six trips to the dump and are less than half way finished.
“I’m working two jobs to make ends meet and pay the bills. Now, I have to pay for this,” Nicoll said. “We just need a little help.”
The fire took Kayden’s father from him and nearly every thing the two owned. The only salvageable items found in the rubble were Calvin’s keys and miraculously, the ceramic Christmas ornaments that belonged to Nicoll’s mother.
“They were packed in a plastic bin that melted around them. They weren’t cracked or discolored,” she said. “That was all that was left.”
Kayden, who Nicoll describes as “a sweetheart,” is living with her now after she was able to get custody of the boy.
“Some days he does OK. Some days not so good,” she said.
After struggling for months to get the property cleaned up, Nicoll started a GoFundMe campaign.
If enough money is raised, after the mobile home is removed, Nicoll will be able to replace some of the things Kayden lost in the fire, she said.
“I just don’t know what else to do,” she said. “I just don’t.”
To donate, search for “Niccum Fire Relief” on gofundme.com.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.