A fire broke out on Christmas night at the home of Christina Olague, a former San Francisco supervisor, and fatally injured her housemate and longtime friend, Randy David Sapp.
Now, Olague's friends and supporters are holding an online fundraiser to help her get back on her feet in the wake of the tragic event. A benefit has also been planned for Jan. 12 at El Rio.
Olague said she has been staying with friends since the fire, and doesn’t know where she will wind up living in the long run. She said she’d wanted to be respectful of her housemates’ privacy before making any public statements about what happened, and didn't reach out to many people initially because she was in a state of shock.
She told the Bay Guardian she had lived in the Victorian, located on Baker Street, for more than four years. Her housemates included Sapp, his partner, Patrick Ferry, and Olague's sister. She said she'd been friends with Sapp and Ferry for more than 15 years.
When the fire started on the evening of Dec. 25, Olague said, she was downstairs talking to a friend on the phone, and Sapp and Ferry were upstairs. “All of a sudden the commotion started,” she remembered. It was classified as a 3-alarm fire, and both were rushed to the hospital with serious burn injuries. Olague and her sister were unharmed. Sapp died from his injuries the following day.
The cause of the fire remains unknown, Olague said.
Sapp and Ferry were co-owners of a Cole Valley shop, The Sword and Rose, which sells incense, oils, and books. Olague said Sapp was also a musician, and described him as “a kind, understanding human being.” She said, “He gave so much to so many people.”
Ferry is still suffering from burn injuries, but is expected to recover fully.
Gabriel Haaland, a longtime activist and labor organizer, created an online fundraising website to help Olague upon hearing the news. He’d texted her randomly, he said, only to learn that “she’d lost her home and her best friend died. I was just blown away.”
The fundraising page, created on wepay.com, has raised nearly $4,000 so far from 52 donors.
“After a long discussion, she agreed to let people know this happened, and at my urging accepted that she needs financial assistance as well with getting a new apartment and getting back on her feet again,” Haaland wrote in a statement on the fundraising website.
In addition, Haaland said a fundraiser is being coordinated by Sups. David Campos, Jane Kim and Eric Mar. It will be a Salsa Sunday at El Rio and is scheduled to be held from 3 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 12.