Fort Davis family seeks community aid after home fire, COVID death

“The City of Marfa is heartsick at the news of the Rubio family losing their home," Marfa mayor Manny Baeza said in a statement.

FORT DAVIS — As Big Bend residents braved another cold night on Tuesday, and people across the state turned to fireplaces and gas stoves to stay warm, the trailer of a family in Fort Davis burned to the ground.

Officials in Fort Davis say they’ve yet to determine a cause for the fire, which happened at around 4 p.m. on Tuesday on San Juan Street and was officially resolved by midnight. As emergency officials deal with urgent crises in the unincorporated community, including a widespread lack of heat and food resources, it could be a few days “at least” before firefighters complete an investigation, said Jim Fowler, a spokesperson for the fire department.

Regardless, for the family who lived there, the fire piled tragedy onto tragedy. The fire resulted in a “total loss” of the structure, Fowler said.

Stephanie Rubio, who lived at the trailer with her three children, just last month lost her husband Robert, a former City of Marfa employee, to COVID. Now, as the family still grieves from his passing, they’re also struggling with the loss of their home.

By press time, condolences were already coming in, and the fundraiser — available at — has already raised $14,000 of its $50,000 goal. The family “lost everything” in the fire and was left with just “the clothes on their back,” wrote Ryan Kinkade, who set up the page.

“I’m setting this up to take any of the burden I can and help them in any way possible,” Kinkade wrote.

Robert Rubio was a beloved figure in Marfa and across the Big Bend region — and Kinkade wasn’t the only one eager to help out.

Tara Salgado, the general manager at Celebration Liquor on the westside of Marfa, said in a Facebook post Tuesday that she was setting up a donation bin at her liquor store, with hope of getting donated clothes for the family.

“Please help this beautiful family out,” Salgado wrote.

In a statement to The Big Bend Sentinel, Ginger Rubio, Stephanie’s sister-in-law, said the family was “so very grateful for all the outreach and support everyone has provided and has been continuing to provide.”

“We’re very grateful and thankful,” Ginger added. The family had no other comments to make at this time, she said.

By Wednesday, officials across the region were also offering their sympathies. “The City of Marfa is heartsick at the news of the Rubio family losing their home, especially so soon after the devastating loss of their husband and father Robert,” Manny Baeza, the mayor of Marfa, said in a statement on behalf of the city. “For such terrible things to happen to such a wonderful family is almost unimaginable. The City extends our thoughts and prayers to them and will help them in any way we can.”

Just last month, Teresa Todd, the city attorney for Marfa and the county attorney for Jeff Davis County, was grieving the loss of her friend Robert. She would remember him, she wrote, for his laughter, his cooking, his “great dancing” and “excellent coaching.” Besides serving as a city employee in Marfa, Rubio had also coached little league in Fort Davis.

Reached for comment on Wednesday, Todd was saddened that the family was facing another hardship. “The Rubios are an absolutely amazing family,” she said in a statement. “Stephanie, Allison, Blake and Levi have endured more hardship in a few weeks than many suffer in a lifetime.”

“I ask everyone that reads this to help out by donating to their GoFundMe account,” Todd added. At press time, more than 100 people had done just that.