It took 100 firefighters, from 8 departments all of Friday night and part of Saturday morning to extinguish this dual-structure fire. "Forty years on the force I've never seen two houses go up like this" Johnson Fire Chief Gordon Smith said Friday night.
After the ash settled Moana Dixon came back to take a look at the business she helped her mother build from scratch. It's called The Hot Tamale Company, Dixon moved from California to work in Johnson with her mother, if their products aren't sourced locally, they come from Mexico. Most of which cannot be replaced. "The devastation of watching somebody's life and pieces of mine burn down is really awful" Dixon said. She said the worst part is knowing she started the fire. She was cooking tortilla chips in oil on the back porch when the oil hit its flash point, ignited and quickly engulfed the entire structure. "Its not easy to see everything you've worked for, this is my mother's livelihood, everything she has is in this house its not easy to walk up and see that its been destroyed" Dixon said.
"Everyone got out but there are five people now who are homeless" Chief Smith said. A father and son were displaced next door along with three tenants living above the Hot Tamales restaurant. One of which is Moana Dixon herself. She lost her home and her business all in a matter of minutes. "Unfortunately our business here is completely destroyed, I don't know how we start over" Dixon said.
Despite the devastation there's one thing she can't help but see as a sign of hope. "The house itself looks pretty devastated but the logo, the one thing that represents the business is still perfectly intact and standing, that gives me hope we can still move forward and that the business isn't destroyed, that this is just the place it lived in" Dixon said.
Owners of The Hub, a neighboring pizza restaurant offered to let Dixon use their kitchen while she gets back on her feet. She'll be selling the authentic Mexican salsa and the Hot Tamale Company's signature dishes at local farmers markets in the coming weeks. She already began cooking Saturday.