Priests look for new home after apartment fire

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POSTED: Monday, December 12, 2011 - 6:26pm

UPDATED: Monday, December 12, 2011 - 6:34pm

Father Hung Nguin picks his way through the remnants of his home.

"The fire destroyed 90 percent of the building," he says.

The former priest lived in the building with seven other men, some of them brothers and some of them priests for the Saint Anthony Catholic Church across the street.

Nguin was across the street at a church meeting around 7:00 Sunday  night when the fire started. He saw flames shooting out of the windows.

"People ran out and shouted 'Fire! Fire!'" he explains. "It was shocking and scary."

There were four people inside the building when the fire started, but all of them got out unharmed. Even the man who jumped out his second story window to avoid the flames refused medical treatment.

"Maybe I've seen it on television before. Maybe it was something that happened to other people, but to me? No," Nguin says. He never imagined that his home would be destroyed by a fire.

Nguin ran into his apartment to grab what he could, but he wasn't even sure where to begin.

"People told me to get what is important," Nguin says. "But I didn't knoe! My mind went blank. Even my car in the garage I didn't drive it out."

Now, Nguin will sleep at the church, but his stay is temporary.

"One or two nights," he says. "After that I am looking for some place to live."

All of Nguin's family lives in Vietnam. Now that his home is gone, he's not sure where he'll be spending the holidays.

"It is very sad especially during the season of advent, the season of joy."

Nguin says he's doing his best to understand why this happened, and what he can learn from it.

"It will help me to better understand the condition of the homeless. Right now, I understand them bettter and show sympathy with them especially during this time."

Nguin says despite the hardships ahead, he's thankful that it was only property that was lost, and not lives.

Investigators estimate that the fire caused about $300,000 in damages. Nguin says it will be months before he can move back in.

Fire fighters are still trying to figure out what caused the fire, but they do not expect foul play at this time.

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