Disaster x 3: Family's Home Destroyed for Third Time

SYLMAR, Calif. -- Daniel and Mary Rios and their family lost their home in the Sayre fire last week, which was not a new occurrence for them: their homes were also wiped out by the 1971 Sylmar earthquake, and the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

"I've never heard anything remotely close to this," said a Red Cross spokesman, commenting on the family's bad luck.

The couple told the Daily News they were taking this trifecta of bad luck in stride.

Daniel Rios, 73, asked his son to go back to their charred modular home, in the hard-hit Oakridge Mobile Home Park, to check the tri-tip steak in the refrigerator last weekend: was it well done or burned?

"People were like, 'How can you joke at a time like this?'" said Betty Rios, 71. "He said, 'I have a key to the house. Anybody want a free house?' He was holding it up."

The Rios couple told the newspaper they are keeping their faith, their senses of humor, and their gratitude to the people who have helped them intact.

"I still have my faith in God because he has brought us so many friends, so many people we don't even know who have helped us," Mary Rios told the Daily News.

The couple moved to Los Angeles in 1962, and settled in a small home at the north end of the San Fernando Valley. That house was knocked 18 inches sideways by the magnitude 6.6 earthquake epicentered at Sylmar.

"I was ready to go back to Kansas," she told the newspaper. "I thought the ground was going to open up and swallow us."

The couple was living in a rented home in Sylmar when the magnitude 6.7 Northridge quake hit in '94, and pushed sewer lines up into the house. They relocated to a mobile home in Oakridge and made family jokes about being

That house was one of 484 mobile homes in that development destroyed last weekend.

One expert on probability theory put the odds of losing three houses to natural disasters -- even in Los Angeles -- at one in 1,000,000.

Although Mary Rios is ready to rebuild at Oakridge, her husband said he is not so sure. "Maybe it's my turn to get on the winning side," he told the Daily News.

"I think I would like to move far away where there aren't any earthquakes, fires and other disasters."

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