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EASING FAMILY'S PAIN FRIENDS ANXIOUS TO ASSIST VICTIMS.

Byline: Judy O'Rourke Staff Writer

VALENCIA - Flames may have consumed the home of a Valencia family but a battery of friends and community members are working furiously to restore the substance of their lives.

Their helpfulness toward David Ewart's family runs the gamut from filling a cooler with snacks for hospital-bound visitors to compiling a video that will be submitted to ``Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.''

``This is a family that their entire life has been dedicated to helping other people,'' said family friend Josy Block. ``It's our chance to give back.''

Block serves as a command central, issuing e-mail updates on the conditions of the three Ewart family members who remain hospitalized and coordinating efforts to help. Others are arranging blood donor drives and meal deliveries.

Fire raced through Ewart's Via Escovar home just before dawn on Dec. 20. Fire investigators believe the blaze was caused by candles left burning from the family's annual Christmas party held the night before.

Violinist David Ewart, his son Michael, 15, and father Hugh, 81, remain hospitalized at the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital. David suffered second-and third-degree burns over 32 percent of his body, Michael suffered burns over 40 percent of his body and Hugh was burned on his face. A hospital spokeswoman said Tuesday that Hugh's condition has been upgraded from serious to fair, and David and Michael remain in serious but stable condition.

``There are more surgeries anticipated for father (David) and son (Michael) but all are showing signs of improvement,'' said Dr. Peter Grossman, associate director of the burn center. Surgeries performed Monday on the trio to remove damaged skin went well, the spokeswoman said. Two younger children and David Ewart's mother were treated for minor injuries after the fire.

Attendance was heavy at a blood drive held for the Ewarts on Tuesday at the Valencia Hills clubhouse, Block said. Three other drives are scheduled. Diane Kaufler, a neighbor of the Ewarts', is in charge of orchestrating meal deliveries for close family members whose days are spent at the burn center. On the day of the fire, more than 50 people signed their names to a list at a community meeting and her phone has not stopped ringing.

Salt Creek Grille furnished meals for the families of David Ewart's brother and for his former wife, and mother of his children, during the week leading up to Christmas. The restaurant also provided Christmas Eve dinners with all the trimmings to the two families. Neighbors furnished meals for the families on Christmas Day, and continue to stock a cooler with snacks and beverages that Duncan Ewart totes to the hospital each day.

``When David comes home we will continue to provide him with meals,'' Kaufler said. ``People have been very generous.''

Ed Plevack, the owner of Lamppost Pizza in Saugus, gave blood Tuesday, and has promised to provide any meals the family needs and to feed volunteers who are working with the family.

The Canyon Theater Guild took up a collection at the two final performances of ``A Christmas Carol,'' and plans to match the donations.

Longtime Ewart family friend Michelle Crawford has assembled a video starring about 25 neighbors, which she will submit to ``Extreme Makeover'' in attempt to get the charred home rebuilt.

Two groups are hard at work trying to replace what might seem irreplaceable: family photo albums.

``We're all going to be donating pictures of David and his family from all the many different activities they were involved in: church, school, swimming, soccer, baseball, the mission to the jungle in Peru,'' said Mary Berg, a family friend.

Block is helping to collect food, household goods and store gift cards to help David Ewart when he returns home. A Cub Scout pack has donated surplus bags of mistletoe sold by neighborhood children Tuesday. Proceeds will go to the Ewart family. Home health care workers and physical therapists have offered their time.

``This is definitely something that is not going to get better overnight,'' Block said. ``We're in it for the long haul.''

The Environment of People Foundation, on whose board David Ewart has served, has set up a fund for his family. The foundation, which strives to ensure music plays a part in the lives of children, will absorb all of the administrative fees. Those who wish to help the family also may contribute to the David Ewart Catastrophe Fund at Wells Fargo Bank branch in Stevenson Ranch.

Block said Consumers Furniture in Canyon Country has promised to help furnish the Ewarts' home when it is rebuilt, and a neighbor has also donated a set of barely used furniture. She is hoping someone will come forward to donate storage space for the items.

Donations have poured in to the Newhall Church of the Nazarene, which also has organized blood drives for the family.

Pastor Greg Garman remembers Ewart playing his violin for children in the Aguaruna tribe of the upper Amazon in Peru during two missions there.

``It was the first time the natives had ever heard the violin, let alone hearing someone play it the way he played it,'' Garman said ``It was an incredible treat for them.''

The Ewarts' well-wishers live as close as next door, but some live a few blocks further.

Garman received an e-mail from the Rev. Ernesto Lozano, president of the seminary in Chiclayo, Peru, sent on behalf of the Peruvian church. He offered his prayers for the Ewart family.

Judy O'Rourke, (661) 257-5255

judy.orourke(at)dailynews.com

How to help the Ewarts:

Three blood drives are planned to help injured members of the Ewart family and others:

--Noon to 9 p.m. Thursday at Sherman Oaks Hospital, 4929 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks.

--On Jan. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Newhall Church of the Nazarene, 23857 The Old Road, Newhall. --By appointment Jan. 14, at Newhall Church of the Nazarene, in conjunction with a bone marrow registry drive for 11-year-old Ryan Baker, who has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. For an appointment, call call the church office at 259-5272.

A scrapbooking group will meet at 6 p.m. Jan. 13 at the Old Orchard 2 Club House, 23919 Avenida Entrana, Valencia. Crafters are asked to bring photos and their own supplies. Another session will be held from 5 to 10 p.m. Jan. 28 at Remember When Scrapbooking, 23407 Lyons Ave., Valencia. Sign up at blocktalk(at)pacbell.net.

Contributions can be made to the David Ewart Catastrophe Fund at any Wells Fargo Bank branch. Checks must be made payable to the David Ewart Catastrophe Fund and must reference account number 8606155136.

The Environment of People Foundation may be found on the Web at www.eopf.org.

CAPTION(S):

2 photos, box

Photo:

(1 -- color) Linda Skvarna participates in the blood drive she organized for the Ewarts, who suffered burns in a house fire. Friends of the Ewarts have been anxious to pay the family back for their many kindnesses.

(2) Audrey Davis, left, and Patti Paglia, both friends of the Ewart family, wait to donate blood for the burn victims.

David Crane/Staff Photographer

Box:

How to help the Ewarts (see text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 28, 2005
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