By Martha Deichler
BSUSD School-Community Liaison 

Duplex Burns in Tragic Fire, Two Families Displaced


Last updated 6/8/2024 at 12:15pm

The fire that destroyed the homes of two local and well known Borrego families started in the walls of one of the duplexes, according to firefighters. The quick moving incendiary left two families bewildered and stunned as they start a new life without many of their cherished possessions and without a home.

John and Pammy Sherrill along with their son, Jonathen, fled the fire with only the clothes on their back and Harlie, their chihuahua. There was no time to grab cell phones, purses and other possessions. John lost his beloved Harley Davidson and Pammy mourns the loss of her little brother’s Bible. He died when he was 6.

On the other side of the duplex, home to Cesar Garcia and his partner, Alyssa Fernandez, Alyssa was the only one home. When she saw flames out the window, she grabbed her computer and dogs and scrambled out to alert their neighbors about the fire. The Sherrills didn’t even know their garage was on fire. In a matter of minutes, flames were engulfing the duplex destroying all of the Sherill’s possessions and partially destroying Cesar’s and Alyssa’s home.

Alyssa stated they were able to salvage some clothing and other household items, although it will take some time and effort to remove the smell of smoke. Cesar, unfortunately, lost much of his equipment and products for his second job as a car detailer, as these were in the burned garage.

The only positive thing that can come of such an event is that it occurred in Borrego Springs, the community that cares. Within hours of the fire, GoFundMe accounts were up and running for both families. Within days, contributions had grown to over $5,000 and are still rising.

The BMA (Borrego Ministers’ Association) held a special meeting to discuss how the community might best address their needs and challenges. Alyssa and Cesar joined the meeting along with Kathy Pratt who is representing John and Pammy.

The results of this meeting are the following:

The Sherrills have found a rental (thank you, Mary Watkins) and are slowly collecting household items. They are in need of a washer and dryer. Folks are asked to contact Kathy Pratt at 760-519-4540 with donations or questions.

Cesar and Alyssa are living comfortably with their family right now. Their goal is to save up to purchase a house in the next year or so. In addition, Cesar will need to replace some of his car detailing products and equipment. Funds are appreciated for these items.

Both families appreciate the funds that are coming in through GoFundMe. These are sorely needed as they rebuild their lives. You may give by going to and type in their names in the search engine.

Or go here:

You may also send checks to the Borrego Ministers’ Association (501c3), PO Box 2183, Borrego Springs, CA 92004. Please note in the byline for which family your donation is directed.

Both families express their immense gratitude to the community. They are overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity.

Borrego is the Best!