Arthur Rosales and his family were just one of the families left without a home indefinitely after a fire in downtown Stockton earlier this month caused them to vacate their apartments.

Early on the morning of April 6, Casa Flores, a longtime family-owned restaurant, suffered a second-alarm fire that not only damaged the structure of the business but also affected the Hunter Square Loft Apartments located above the restaurant.

“I ran into the apartment complex and told my wife and daughter we gotta get out of here, there was too much smoke to go through the hallways, so we went out the fire escape,” Rosales said.

Rosales said he left the building without shoes on and with no car keys. His daughter only had a jacket on, and no other belongings were taken during their evacuation.

The American Red Cross, a nonprofit agency that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and disaster preparedness education, said they assisted people and families from the apartments by giving them a debit card with money, with the amount given on each card varying on a case-by-case basis.

“The landlord said they were sorry for everything and for us to find living arrangements. They said once the money runs out to find someone’s couch to sleep on until everything is OK to go back in.”

Arthur Rosales, Hunter Square Loft Apartments tenant

“It could be that a family in an apartment with say three or four inhabitants they would have a greater amount of needs versus a residence with one person,” Red Cross communications manager Jenny Arrieta said.

She said Red Cross also aids with clothes and has case workers working with all of the residents to determine each person’s needs.

Since the fire, Rosales and his family have been staying at a motel in the area, but aren’t sure how they will continue to pay for their stay despite receiving some funds from the American Red Cross.

“The landlord said they were sorry for everything and for us to find living arrangements,” Rosales said. “They said once the money runs out to find someone’s couch to sleep on until everything is OK to go back in.”

The landlord company, GQ North Commercial Property Management, was not immediately available for comment.

Five-year resident Betty Garibay said she had to leave her place in pajamas without her cellphone or any other personal items.

She said she and her husband have been staying at an elderly facility with her husband’s mother, but they are only allowed a 14-day stay.

Garibay and her husband were given a debit card from the Red Cross with $500 and were given another $200 a week later, but she said the funds aren’t enough long-term.

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Victoria Franco is a Stockton-based reporter covering the diverse news around the Central Valley as part of the Report for America program. As a Stockton native, Franco is proud to cover stories within her community and report a variety of coverage. She is a San Jose State University alumna with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism. In her collegiate years she was Managing Editor for the Spartan Daily. From her time at the Spartan Daily she helped lead her staff to California College Media Awards and a General Excellence first place. Victoria encourages readers to email her story tips and ideas at