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Family that lost everything in a house fire get a hand from the Rays

Patti Hager, left, and her son John Clark, 28, attended FanFest Saturday and got a little help from the Tampa Bay Rays replacing memorabilia lost in a recent fire.
Patti Hager, left, and her son John Clark, 28, attended FanFest Saturday and got a little help from the Tampa Bay Rays replacing memorabilia lost in a recent fire.
Published Feb. 19, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG — Relatives, friends, neighbors and co-workers have already pitched in to help Patti Hager after a recent fire gutted her family's Seminole home, killing their four cats and destroying most of their possessions, including an extensive collection of Tampa Bay Rays bobblehead dolls and figurines.

Saturday, the team lent a hand.

After learning of the Feb. 9 incident from one of Hager's co-workers in the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court's office, the Rays invited Hager and her family to Tropicana Field for Saturday's FanFest. The team arranged for the family to meet players and gave them eight-game ticket packages and gift certificates for team merchandise. And replacements were found for some of her son's collectibles.

"We lost it all, so the Rays were just wonderful in replacing some of it and letting us come here and try to have a fun day in all this," said Hager, a manager of civil court records. "It was good to get away for a day, we needed this. Everyone has been wonderful."

Hager said the fire started in the garage late at night, and was only noticed when her son, John Clark, 28, saw the smoke through the window as he was emptying the litter boxes. He woke Hager, and she, her husband and son got out in time.

"The fire marshal said if my son hadn't found it, because our bedroom is right behind the garage, my husband and I would have died," Hager said. "So my son is the hero."