Tina Compton did everything with her husband and her daughter.
The 47-year-old Hemet woman was a devoted mother and full-time caretaker to Mikayla Porter, 27, who had autism. She was a doting wife to her husband, Ian, 40, who her friend Kimberly Valadez described as “the love of her life.”
Monday wasn’t supposed to be any different for the Porter-Comptons.
But around 4 pm Monday, a fire erupted near their home on Avery Canyon Road. The blaze quickly grew, prompting the tight-knit family to gather their belongings and evacuate their home. Alongside their four pets, the Porter-Comptons jumped into the family vehicle to evacuate.
Then their car stalled.
Tina Compton quickly problem solved. Thinking it was heat causing the stall, she hurried to fetch a hose from the house to cool down the car, according to an account of the events from her brother, Tim Chitwood. By then, it was too late.
Although Chitwood has confirmed the deaths of Ian and Mikayla, the Riverside County Coroner’s Office said they have not been able to positively identify the pair because of the severity of their injuries.
When Tina got back to the car, she faced a horrific scene: the vehicle was suddenly engulfed in flames — with her family inside. She attempted to rescue her family and received severe burns in the process, Valadez said, adding that she stood by the car until a neighbor pulled her away.
“Tina said she wanted to die alongside the family,” Valadez said.
Chitwood said Tina remains in the hospital with third-degree burns to her feet, legs and arms, and lesser burns to her face and hair. The hospital stay is expected to last at least a month, he added.
Along with the loss of her family and pets, Chitwood said the Porter-Compton home has been destroyed, as have all of Tina’s vital documents and possessions.
Chitwood remembers his niece Mikayla as a “happy little girl” and brother-in-law Ian as a “good guy” who made “a great couple” with his sister.
“They were good people, gone too soon,” Chitwood said.
Through tears, Valadez recalls her 30-year friendship with Tina, who she grew up with in Whittier. Family life and adulthood pulled them in different directions, but Valadez, who lives in Tennessee, said their bond remained strong.
Valadez describes Tina as an “amazing person, mother, and friend.” She said Ian, who grew up in Hemet, was “funny and friendly.” At the time of the fire, Valadez said Ian was going to back to school for criminal justice.
Valadez added that the Ian had “stepped up” for Mikayla, Tina’s daughter from another marriage.
Reflecting on their legacy as a couple, Valadez especially remembers Tina and Ian for their generosity.
“You could go to their house and they would take you in,” Valadez said. “Anything you needed, they would give you.”
As Tina faces the burden of funeral, medical and other costs, Valadez has started a GoFundMe page that has raised almost $10,000 for her friend, who has “has a lot of healing and rebuilding ahead of her,” the page said.
As of Thursday evening, the Fairview Fire has reached 18,567 acres and is holding at 5% containment, according to Cal Fire data.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.