JACUMBA, Calif. — A San Diego artist whose work graces several buildings throughout the county lost everything when her East County home went up in flames last month. 

Now, the Jacumba community is helping to her get back on her feet.

Linda Churchill’s once colorful world turned to ashes when a fire broke out in her home around 12:24 p.m. on Sunday, May 21. By the time CALFIRE crews were able to put the flames out, her house on Inkopah Mountain and art studio were totally destroyed.

“I was painting and I was standing in the window and I heard a ‘wush’ and this whole area was shooting flames up into the sky,” Churchill recalled to FOX 5.

Her pets, a cat and a dog, were upstairs when the fire ignited. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it out alive. Churchill said she barely escaped the blaze with her life.

“The fireman keep assuring me that if I had gone upstairs, I may not have made it out because of the fumes and the smoke so I have to live with that,” Churchill said.

For more than 40 years, Linda Churchill has been painting murals for buildings across San Diego County. Her artwork graces the walls of places like Jack Murphy Stadium, ACE hardware in Hillcrest to the University Heights library.

“So many people have seen this work and probably have not even know the hand that was behind creating these pieces that had really brought joy and pleasure to many people,” Churchill’s friend, Doreen Cruz, said.

  • Linda Churchill's mural located in Jack Murphy Stadium. (Mural by Linda Churchill; Courtesy of Doreen Cruz)
  • Linda Churchill at work on a mural. (Courtesy of Doreen Cruz)
  • Linda Churchill's mural in a Hillcrest Ace Hardware. (Mural by Linda Churchill; Courtesy of Doreen Cruz)

The Jacumba community is now raising money on GoFundMe for Linda’s housing, basic necessities and art supplies. The fundraiser can be found here.

“I don’t feel like a victim even though it’s really hard,” Churchill said. “I have an amazing community here. Everybody constantly tells me how much they love me and they’re giving me money and they want to help.”

They want to get Churchill back on her feet, so she can continue bringing more color to San Diego. 

“It’s more than a pastime or a hobby,” Churchill said. “It’s why I’m here on this earth.”

CAL FIRE has not determined a cause for the fire at this time. The San Diego Sheriff Bomb Arson Unit is leading the investigation which they say is standard for a rural house fire.