Bradford is among two families displaced by a fire that broke out Thursday night at a duplex on Arrow Wood Court in northwest Twin Falls.
Friends have set up an online GoFundMe page to help Bradford, her fiancée Chris Zamora, and four children: 12-year-old Alexa, 7-year-old Talon, nearly 4-year-old Chris, Jr. and newborn Lydia.
As of Friday afternoon, they’d raised $250 toward a $15,000 goal.
The family didn’t have renter’s insurance, but has been in touch with their landlord, said Christina Weires, who is one of Bradford’s closest friends.
The American Red Cross has also reached out to both families displaced by the fire, said Matt Ochsner, regional spokesman for Idaho and Montana.
Depending on each family’s needs, the Red Cross can provide financial assistance; replace items such as prescription medications, medical equipment and eyeglasses; help with finding a place to stay; mental health support and connecting with other community resources.
Bradford said the American Red Cross provided her family with a $1,000 prepaid debit card to help with paying for a hotel room or anything else they need.
Her family lost everything — including brand new baby items like a car seat and bassinet. “All the furniture for the baby was ruined,” she said.
The family’s greatest need is clothes, Bradford said. Zamora had just gotten the duplex six months ago and bought new furniture.
But now, everything is gone.
Bradford said she was in labor at the hospital Thursday night and was waiting for medical staff to come back into her room. They had gone to call a doctor to come break her water.
“They came back in and said, ‘You need to get your fiancée on the phone and we need to talk to both of you,” she said. “I thought there was something wrong with the baby.”
A nurse at the hospital lives across the street from Bradford, and his wife had called to tell him the duplex was on fire.
The medical staff broke the news to Bradford and told her the property damage was severe. She talked with the neighbor.
“My fiancé’s truck got messed up and our whole house,” Bradford said.
She had only a few minutes to process the news before her water broke.
Zamora had left Friday for his job as a long haul truck driver and was almost to California when Bradford went into labor, and he wasn’t allowed to turn around to head home.
“He was devastated that he couldn’t be here for her birth,” Bradford said. “On top of that, our house was destroyed.”
The fire started after occupants of 911 Arrow Wood Court — the south side of the duplex — were draining fuel out of a vehicle gas tank inside the garage, said Twin Falls Fire Battalion Chief Brian Cunningham.
It’s unclear how the gasoline ignited, he said, but flames spread to the car, garage and into the second-level attic spaces in both units.
Firefighters got the blaze under control by 9:09 p.m., about an hour after it was reported.
There weren’t any injuries and everyone got out safely from the 911 unit, Cunningham said. No-one was home in the 909 unit, where Bradford and her family lived.
Early dispatch calls indicated two cats may have been inside one of the units, but Cunningham said he couldn’t confirm.
Cunningham said he doesn’t have a dollar estimate for the damage, but it’s extensive throughout both sides of the duplex.
Firefighters were mostly fighting the blaze from the outside of the structure, Cunningham said. “Due to the amount of fire and the large amount of smoke, I wasn’t sure about the stability of the structure.”
Weires, along with Bradford’s mother and sister, went over the duplex Friday morning to try to salvage any remaining items.
“There was extensive damage,” she said. “The ceiling fell down and there was insulation all over.”
They planned to put a few items they recovered — including a television and entertainment center — into a storage unit provided by the American Red Cross.
And now, they’re asking for the community’s help to assist Bradford and her family with getting back on their feet.
TWIN FALLS — When Anja Rodriguez came back to her hometown last year, things had changed.
The recent college graduate found that many of her high school friends were now living outside of Twin Falls. And since most who’d stayed were now married or had children, the dynamics between them had changed.
But it was difficult to branch out into new social groups.
“I was really nervous at first,” said Rodriguez, a 29-year-old attorney at Nicholson Migliuri Rodriguez PLLC.
She wasn’t alone. Eleanor Miller, 24, had moved here from Wisconsin to work for Glanbia Nutritionals, and she was also having a hard time finding other professionals her age — outside of work or the grocery store.
“I didn’t know anyone here,” Miller said.
That’s how the idea for Magic Valley Young Professionals was formed. Still in its infancy, the group aims to connect young career-minded individuals through social, professional and community-oriented events.
“This is just another catalyst to get more involved in the community and see what Twin Falls is all about,” group treasurer Andy Hohwieler said.
Here’s some basic information about the Magic Valley Young Professionals:
Who they are
The group has a broad definition of “young professionals,” Miller said. Although it’s generally tailored toward career-minded people younger than 40, anyone who is “young at heart” and has an interest in professional development is welcome to attend meetings or social gatherings.
So far, the group is a mixed bag of people from the Magic Valley, new recruits and those who, like Rodriguez, came back after a few years.
At its August meeting, the group organized its leadership board, which includes: Vice President Hans Heeling from Adaptive Computing; Secretary Anja Rodriguez from Nicholson Migliuri Rodriguez PLLC; Treasurer Andy Hohwieler from The Scoular Company; and President Eleanor Miller from Glanbia Nutritionals.
What they do
Miller hosted the group’s first event, a bowling night, in April after she received some startup money from the Blue Lakes Twin Falls Rotary Club. The Magic Valley Young Professionals has also done a mini-golf night, a picnic and weekly happy hours on Fridays at local businesses. Participants pay for their own entry fees or refreshments at the events.
“It’s mostly meeting people in areas outside of what you do,” Rodriguez said
The 5:30 p.m. Happy Hour is her favorite part of the group because it’s an informal way to make friends. And sometimes, she said, a group of them will continue the night of fun elsewhere — at another business or at somebody’s house.
Most of Magic Valley Young Professionals’ marketing is done through its Facebook page and word of mouth. But it recently created a website, mvyoungprofessionals.com, which is being updated with events and links to resources.
So far, the group has met only in Twin Falls, but it may extend its reach to other communities as it grows.
in addition to its leadership board, the group also has chairs for community engagement, social events, marketing and social media.
Miller hopes that new members will take an active role in deciding the group’s future and helping to organize events.
“I wanted it to be what the community wanted,” she said.
In general, the group’s purpose is to foster relationships, build leadership and provide civic engagement for young professionals in the Magic Valley. The board plans to host professional development and community involvement/volunteer events in the future.
Ideally, the members, the community and area businesses will all benefit.
“Attracting and retaining talent in this area is lacking in a very big way,” said Hohwieler, a 28-year-old commodity trader. “We need more culture for our young employees because that’s what they’re looking for.”
Groups such as this, he said, can help deepen employees’ roots in this area when they find value in activities outside of work.
And if businesses help out the group by hosting events such as tours, it can help them spread the word about what they do, he said.
Twin Falls, Hohwieler said, is on the cusp of an identity change as it is diversifying from the agriculture industry. This group would be a venue for new professionals coming into the area.
“What I like about Twin especially is we are growing in such a fast way, and I like to be part of that growth,” he said.
MURTAUGH — Jose Simental knows how to slingshot an ear of corn right smack into the middle of a target.
“I just close my left eye and aim kinda at the side of the target,” said Jose, a fourth-grader at Murtaugh Elementary School, as he demonstrated his technique.
Jose and a hundred other students in Murtaugh’s After School program visited the Magic Valley Corn Maze on Tuesday.
The corn maze is meant to be scary at night, but that afternoon, it was nothing but fun.
Shyloh Perkins and Adriana Ramirez played a game of checkers on an electrical spool with purple and orange squares.
“So far, it’s a tie,” Shyloh said, pointing to deadlocked baby pumpkin checker pieces. “Well, we’re actually stuck.”
Tylee Young and Teague Gunnell played a game of Jenga made from short two-by-fours. In a “sandbox” framed by straw bales and filled with corn kernels, little Wyatt Hepworth and his friends scooped kernels into toy dump trucks and emptied them into miniature silos.
Older students fired ears of corn from an air cannon.
Children disappeared into the large corn maze called “Field of Screams” and re-emerged a half-hour later.
Murtaugh siblings Colleen Wilkins and Travis Stastny, with spouses, Kip Wilkins and Carol Stastny, have operated the corn maze for several years. The four own Hollyberry Nursery between Murtaugh and Hansen.
“Kip wanted to do this,” Colleen said. “He wanted to see kids laugh.”
Mission accomplished. The maze receives visitors from schools across the valley, and families from as far as Elko, she said.
The corn maze is a complicated pattern cut using GPS for precision. It spells out the Stotz Equipment logo if seen from above.
Visitors wander through the cornfield, through a spooky bus, a spider tunnel and into the nursery’s “forest” of spruce and pines for extra thrills.
“It’s really scary when it becomes haunted,” Colleen said. The maze becomes haunted on Saturdays after dark.
Most folks can usually get through the maze in 45 minutes, but others take twice as long. One family got lost and had to exit through the entrance, she said.
Ten-year-old Brianna Cabral is looking forward to Halloween.
“I’m going to dress up like a skeleton or a Greek goddess,” she said.
Eight-year-old Kayle Gomez loves the maze.
“My favorite part is all the decorations and the creepy stuff.”
OAKLEY — Chandler Jones was playing quarterback for the first time in his high school career, hoping to lead the Oakley High School football team to a district championship against the fourth-ranked team in the state.
On Friday night, the sophomore wearing No. 13 threw a district title-winning pass.
No. 2 Oakley defeated Valley 22-14 on Friday night at Oakley High School. The Snake River Conference win gave the Hornets (6-1, 6-0) their first outright district title since 2008.
“We felt like we were written off this week. People didn’t think we were gonna win,” Jones said. “We came out and proved everybody wrong. We’re district champs.”
Jones has been a key player for Oakley all season long, but before Friday, he was the one catching passes, not throwing them.
Regular starting quarterback Tate Cranney suffered a season-ending leg injury last week against Challis, so Jones was chosen to play the most important position in the most important game of the season.
On top of his quarterbacking duties, Jones had to cover Valley senior wide receiver Victor Lopez, who was playing his first game in weeks after battling injuries.
Oakley took an 8-0 lead midway through the first quarter, but Valley quickly answered with a 50-yard TD run from junior quarterback Jason Hardy. Near the end of the quarter, Jones completed a 41-yard pass to senior Sam Mitton to put the Hornets up 14-6.
“My idea was just come in calm, make plays, let my teammates make plays,” Jones said.
Midway through the second quarter, Lopez caught a Hardy pass and outran the defense for an 82-yard touchdown. The subsequent two-point conversion made the score 14-14, and the game had shootout vibes.
Instead, the game became a boxing match.
Both teams struggled to move the ball the next two quarters. The long offensive plays and turnovers mostly dried up, and a couple of seemingly pivotal plays netted nothing.
With 5:04 left in regulation, Oakley finally drove into the red zone and reached the 3-yard line. Max Alves ran left and almost reached the end zone, but Valley’s Victor Nava and Luis Cervantes stopped him. One of them stripped the ball out, and the Vikings recovered in the end zone to keep the game tied at 14-14.
Valley followed the fumble up with a healthy drive, but Oakley’s defense forced a stop on fourth down.
The Hornets got another fourth down stop on Valley’s next drive, and this time it was on the Vikings’ 34-yard line.
One play later, the Hornets ran a play called “Moses.” Sophomore Josh Nyman lined up in the backfield and ran a seam route down the field as Jones rolled right. Oakley’s tight ends, on opposite side of the lines, ran out routes to create a figurative parting of the Red Sea.
The action drew Valley’s defenders toward Jones, who saw a wide-open Nyman streaking down the left side of the field. Jones and Nyman connected for the go-ahead touchdown with 1:20 remaining.
“Valley’s a great team,” Nyman said. “The game wasn’t over.”
A week ago at Grace, the Vikings trailed 42-34 with 2:09 left. They scored a touchdown with 25 seconds left but took the loss after failing to convert the two-point conversion.
With 1:20 left on Friday, Valley quickly drove down the field. Lopez, who finished with 212 receiving yards on eight catches, had another long catch to put the Vikings in the red zone.
Soon, they were on the 3-yard line. Hardy ran up the middle but was stuffed short with 0:15 left, forcing Valley to take its final timeout. Hardy stayed down, writhing in pain and grabbing his lower left leg. He had to be helped off the field.
Senior Alejandro Mesa replaced Hardy, and he was sacked on his first play. The Vikings tried to spike the ball, but the clock ran out before they could get the snap off.
The loss dropped Valley to 6-2 overall and 4-2 in the SRC. The Vikings host Glenns Ferry in the season finale next week, and they need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
They’re hoping for good news on Hardy, who completed 13-of-37 passes for 296 yards, and ran for 127 yards on 23 carries.
Oakley senior lineman Jake Nyman, Josh’s brother, had 20 tackles and five sacks, according to head coach Kade Craner.
Oakley, which earned a tie for the SRC title in 2014, hosts rival Raft River next week to end the regular season. The Trojans beat the Hornets in last year’s 1A Division II state title game, and they handed Oakley its only loss of this season.
Raft River needs a win to stay alive in the playoff race. Oakley has nothing to lose.
“I’ve played varsity for four years now, and I’ve always had to take the rough route to the state title game,” Jake Nyman said. “This year, we got ‘er done. It’s the best feeling in the world.”
Oakley 22, Valley 14
Valley; 6; 8; 0; 0; — 14
Oakley; 14; 0; 0; 8; — 22
O — Austin Bedke 2-yard run (Kobe Martin pass from Chandler Jones)
V — Jason Hardy 50-yard run (pass failed) 4:49
O — Sam Mitton 41-yard pass from Jones (run failed) 0:49
V — Victor Lopez 82-yard pass from Hardy (Alex Korom pass from Hardy) 6:20
O — Josh Nyman 34-yard pass from Jones (Max Alves pass from Jones) 1:20