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Santa makes special visit to Peoria firefighter and his family

(KTAR News Photo/Griselda Zetino)

PHOENIX — Santa and his elves on Friday visited a Valley firefighter and his family and they didn’t come empty-handed.

They delivered dozens of presents to Peoria firefighter Justin Lopez, his wife and their seven kids. It was enough to fill up the family’s entire living room.

“This means a lot to not just my wife and I but the kids,” Lopez said. “You see their faces right now, and just to see that out of something that happened that was so terrible — it means a lot.”

Lopez suffered life-threatening injuries in a fire at the Arizona Public Service solar energy storage site in Surprise back in April. The building exploded shortly after a hazmat team arrived.

Eight firefighters in total were sent to the hospital after suffering injuries from the explosion.

The 100 Club of Arizona, which provided support for the family after Lopez’s injury, teamed up with VIP Mortgage on Friday to deliver the presents.

Lopez said this Christmas will be extra special for him and his family.

“I’ve come to realize how special and valuable life is and that life can easily be taken from you without even knowing,” he said. “So I think all nine of us are going to appreciate this much more than any other Christmas.”

Lopez is just returning to light duty work after undergoing several surgeries.

After the explosion, he was treated for fractures to his skull, ribs, left leg and nose, a collapsed lung and multiple burns and lacerations to this body.

Angela Harrolle, president and CEO of the 100 Club of Arizona, said the Lopez family has endured a tremendous amount of stress over these past eight months. She said she hopes the gifts will provide some relief.

“The gifts are just the bonus,” Harrolle said. “The fact that they have their dad here living, breathing and doing well … I think that’s the most important thing.”

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