Dobbins, who rose to investigate, said he initially assumed it was a malfunction. It was not, however. A candle had been left burning and the home, located in the 600 block of California Street, which Dobbins and his wife have lived in for the past 28 years, was in flames.
Everyone made it out of the house safely, including the two cats, and although much was lost in the blaze, Dobbins said, "Things are looking up. Thank goodness the smoke alarm went off," Dobbins said. "I'm sure it saved our lives."
Dobbins, a well-known local preschool teacher, said that aside from being grateful everyone made it out alive, the outpouring of community support has really made a deep impression on him.
His neighbors across the way immediately took him and his family in, feeding them breakfast and offering moral support until the Red Cross could place them in a hotel. His wife's colleagues from Foothill College, as well as families affiliated with the Mountain View Parent Nursery School — where Dobbins has worked for the past 21 years — have offered money, furniture and help in finding a new home.
"He's wonderful with the kids," said Margaret Poor, who knows Dobbins from his work with the preschool. "He's just a cornerstone of the school."
Firefighters arrived at the house to find smoke and flames coming through the front windows of the home, said Jaime Garrett a spokeswoman for the fire department. Dobbins' daughter was transported to a local hospital and treated for smoke inhalation but she is doing fine now, according to Dobbins.
The Dobbins also have a son, who lives in San Francisco and was not at home when the house caught fire.
Poor said she is starting a donation fund to help the Dobbins family rebuild. Check the Voice website at mv-voice.com for more information on how to help.