Vandals destroyed the heater at the American Red Cross' headquarters on Sixth Street in Modesto last week, sending a shiver through the charity, but things began to warm up again Tuesday.
Champion Industrial Contractors Inc. of Modesto donated the $2,500 deductible the Red Cross would have had to pay to replace the heating and air conditioning unit, said Rebecca Ciszek, executive director of the Red Cross's Stanislaus County chapter. Then the contractor installed a $5,702 replacement unit. The balance will be covered by insurance.
By early afternoon, the place was heating up. "The classroom is nice and warm," Ciszek said about 1 p.m. "It took a little while because that room had been cold now for a week."
The donation means the organization won't have to dig into its charity funds to fix the unit, Ciszek said. "We very much welcomed that. That's $2,500 that can now go back into the services rather than have to pay our deductible."
The work followed a frigid weekend at the Red Cross. The center held planned disaster training and cardiopulmonary resuscitation courses, and participants weathered the cold with space heaters and blankets, Ciszek said.
She discovered something was wrong Jan. 16, when the building wasn't warming up. A repairman discovered that the rooftop unit had been damaged beyond repair after having been stripped of its copper parts, which carry a hefty recycling value.
The theft followed other burglaries in early December, Ciszek said, when vandals broke through a fence and into two Red Cross vehicles, stealing gas and damaging parts. The vehicles now are stored at a Modesto fire station.
As for the new heating and air conditioning unit, the Red Cross has snipped the end of an emergency ladder they believe burglars used to reach the rooftop unit. The ladder used to stretch between the roof and the ground; now it stops 12 feet from the bottom.
Bee staff writer Inga Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2324.