Friends Step Up to Help Local Coach Whose Parents Lost Home in Mendocino Complex Fires

WEST SACRAMENTO -- The football field is coach Andy Hamel's second home and it's an escape from what happened to his first home.

The Mendocino Complex destroyed his parents' house in Lake County. He was there the day they got evacuated.

"We could see the fire, about 30-foot flames coming over the ridge," Hamel said. "We had the fire department driving up and basically he pulled up to us and said, 'You guys need to get out of here right now.'"

Hamel says the house sat right between the River and Ranch fires.

They got out safely with some pictures but have to start from scratch.

"Do you look at manufactured homes? Do you rebuild your house? Where's the money going to come from? It's all a little stressful for them," Hamel said.

This isn't the first time the family has dealt with this. Hamel says part of the same house burned down 25 years ago.

"It was when I was 17 and I helped the contractor build it back up," Hamel said. "So it was an interesting experience."

Hamel made his way from that home in Lake County to West Sacramento years ago. He's now a well-known and well-liked youth football coach.

"They have big hearts. They're generous people," said friend Kathleen Lancaster. "They open their home up to people who need it. They put their own money into the youth program and they really don't ask anything in return."

Now, Lancaster is asking for something. By Tuesday night, fundraising efforts already raised more than $1,000 for Hamel's parents. Lancaster hopes to raise more.

"We've been recipients of his generosity hundreds of times over, so it was time for us to help," Lancaster said.

But the coach appreciates his community no matter what.

"We're all one big family and you really feel it when something happens to everyone," Hamel said. "I appreciate everything they've done so far."

Along with the GoFundMe, there will be a spaghetti fundraiser on August 18 from 4 to 9 p.m. at West Sac Sports Bar and Grill.

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