An elderly Pahrump man is dead following a late morning house fire, just after 8 a.m. on Sunday morning.
The man, identified as David Olascoaga, 93, had lived at the residence for more than five years with his daughter Donna Cordova, 50, who managed to escape the residence physically unscathed.
Cordova’s elder brother, Joel Olascoaga, spoke about the death of his father and how his sister is recovering from the tragedy, occurring at 5860 Kent Ave., on the far south end of town.
Olascoaga, who arrived in Pahrump from Southern California, noted that his father, a former tradesman in the Glendale and Silver Lake area of the state, was scheduled to celebrate his 94th birthday on Friday, Dec. 29.
“My sister and my father have been living in Pahrump for approximately the last 10 years,” he said. “My father had been living with my sister since her husband passed away about five years ago. He just did not want to leave her alone.
“She is the youngest of my siblings and he was very protective of her, so he chose to remain here. I tried to convince him to stay at my house in California, but I couldn’t do it for the entire five years that he was living in Pahrump. This is where he wanted to be and this is where he chose to leave us. I have to respect that.”
Dark smoke observed
Olascoaga said workers near the property on Sunday morning noticed smoke billowing from the single-story manufactured home and alerted the occupants.
“They tried to rescue my sister and my father but unfortunately they were only able to assist with getting Donna out of the house with her life,” he said. “My father had a heart condition, so more than likely, I hope that it was his heart that took his life, rather than burning up in the fire. It’s especially tragic because we are in the holiday season, but the most important thing is family because all of the other things can be replaced.”
Even during the confusion and ensuing tumult during and after the devastating fire, Olascoaga acknowledged the individuals and agencies who offered assistance to his family in the fire’s aftermath.
“The sheriff’s office did an excellent job notifying our family, so we immediately arrived here in town after we learned of this,” he said. “After that, the Spirit of Love, Church of God came to us for support. The American Red Cross has also been present from the beginning and they have done an amazing job. I have communicated with them just recently and I will continue to communicate with them further because my sister lost everything. I truly appreciate everyone’s effort here in the community to help my sister. I think this is the spirit of what we are all really, truly about.”
Mired in a deep state of grief, Donna Cordova’s sister, who chose to remain anonymous, spoke about her father’s experiences living in the Pahrump Valley until his passing over the weekend.
She broke down in tears, while trying to find the words expressing her feelings about the tragedy.
She also noted that her father attended church every Sunday morning.
“My sister told me how happy my father was here in Pahrump, because this is where he wanted to be,” she said. “Donna told me that he would always sing during church services every Sunday with his arms up. She truly loved that about him. My father was a very spiritual person. The church pastor told me she was going to take care of my sister as long as she needed her. Members of this church made a big pot of soup with spoons and bowls and they fed us all. We had about 12 family members here on Sunday night at around 9 p.m.”
Neighbors helping neighbors
Early Monday afternoon, a woman who lives near the fire-gutted home slowly drove up the gravel road leading up to the residence, to briefly visit with about a half-dozen family members gathered just outside the home, as Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services and the sheriff’s office continued their investigation at the property.
Tammy Thompson stopped by to offer words of comfort and consolation.
“Seven and a half years ago, somebody tried to kill me and burn my house down,” Tammy Thompson said. “I really didn’t know that this family actually lost anyone in the fire until now. I live nearby and I saw the smoke in the sky on Sunday morning. It was very dark smoke, so I knew it was probably a house fire because I also heard the sirens.”
Olascoaga, meanwhile, praised the efforts of the local residents who came from far and wide to offer assistance to his family.
“The fact that the community has come to my sister’s aid is what I am very grateful for,” he said. “My sister operated a hairdressing salon here in Pahrump. Over the years, she has contributed to the efforts for people who are unable to pay for haircuts and other services.”
“I think that when you do something good for others, others will come to you or aid when you are in need.”
Additionally, Olascoaga said though he regularly drives to Pahrump from California just to check in on his sister and father, he sensed something askew with his father’s temperament during his most recent visit last week.
“I was here on Tuesday and Wednesday with my father and sister because I just wanted find out how he is feeling and what he’s up to,” he said. “I did notice something that I have never noticed before with my father. It was his calmness that I sensed when I was visiting. It was almost as if he somehow knew that the end was near for him. I just hope, when I reach that point in my life, I will have that same peacefulness within myself.”
Anyone wishing to assist the family with provisions and or donations may do so by calling Pastor Teresa Sawtelle, of Spirit of Love Church of God at 702-235-9148.
The church is located at 2891 W. Mesquite Ave.
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @pvtimes