A man was killed and his wife injured and a family was left homeless after a fire shortly after midnight Sunday.
The house fire occurred in the 800 block of Filburn Street at around 12:45 a.m., the Kern County Fire Department reported.
Firefighters arrived to find the front side of the home burning, with flames shooting through parts of the roof.
Crews searched the home for trapped individuals. They rescued Mireya Lopez, who was taken to the hospital for treatment. Her husband, Juan E. Lopez, Sr., was found dead.
Mireya Lopez was in stable condition and recovering from her injuries.
Their home was completely destroyed. No cause was given for the blaze.
Petra Rueda, a neighbor, said of 76-year-old Mr. Lopez, "He was very well loved and respected in the community."
"He stayed active and loved exercising. He would walk in the morning and evening with his neighbor. He was very friendly with everyone."
"My heart goes out to them. All we can do is pray for her recovery. It is just something tragic."
A neighbor since 1979, Peter Gomez, said, "We feel really bad about it. It was a shock and devastating. He was a good neighbor and very polite. We never had a problem with him. We are real sorry he's gone."
Another friend, Alejandra Almanza, has known the couple from the Wasco Senior Center since 2018.
"Both used to go on a daily basis, Monday through Friday. They would play dominos. It was their favorite game," Almanza said. "The seniors are a close-knit group, and yesterday they were in tears. They really took the news hard."
"They were like peanut butter and jelly and were always together. He was reserved, and she was outgoing, a social butterfly."
They were married for 52 years.
She said, "He was a hard-working family man. Very reserved but really overall just a good man."
Almanza said she had just seen them on Friday before the fire.
"They were very excited about the Christmas event at the senior center," he said.
The Lopez are lifelong residents and had lived in the home for more than 40 years. Their sons, Juan and Nick, were raised in town and attended Wasco High School.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to cover the cost of the funeral and future expenses for Mireya Lopez. To donate, go to gofundme.com and search "Lopez Family." Nickolas Lopez and Rafaela Lopez are on Facebook, too.