At the end of the day, Walter and Diane Fuller are simply lucky to be alive.
The senior couple known around town for living in a camper on East Tremont Avenue by Mayflower Avenue had a brush with death in the early morning of Saturday, February 16 when that RV mysteriously caught fire and exploded, destroying everything inside and outside of it.
“I went outside to turn the generator on, came back inside and thought the black smoke was coming from the stove, then I remembered I wasn’t cooking anything,” Walter said. “We rushed out (of the camper) in time thankfully, but we lost everything,” he added while mentioning that all their clothes and important documents are all simply gone.
After the powerful explosion, the Fullers were comforted by at least 30 police officers from the 45th Precinct. They were nothing less than wonderful to him and his wife, Walter exclaimed.
“They went out and got Dianne slippers and a jacket while we were waiting,” he said.
The Fullers were taken to Jacobi Medical Center for smoke inhalation tests, but besides Walter’s high blood pressure rising, the 25-year married couple didn’t suffer an noticable injuries.
Earlier in 2018, Fuller’s 1993 Ford camper was victimized in a late night hit and run, that damaged the rear driver’s side of the vehicle. Walter and Diane were both on board at the time and suffered injuries from the crash.
“I took it to Hunts Point to be fixed but there were still some holes in it,” Fuller said, mentioning his suspicion that the heat from the RV’s generator eroded the camper’s insulation, causing the fire.
At age 79, Fuller is a retired tractor trailer driver.
He has frequently loaned the sides of his camper for the campaign banners of those he supports for political office, the most recent being local businessman John Cerini, during his unsuccessful race for the NYC Council in 2017.
Before taking up life in the camper, Walter and Diane lived on Eighth Avenue in West Babylon on Long Island.
Since the camper explosion, the Red Cross has put them up at the Holiday Inn LaGuardia Airport at 37-10 114th Street in Queens. The Fullers are unsure of what their next move will be or where they will live.
“We asked (the Red Cross) if we could be in the Bronx, but they couldn’t accommodate that,” Walter said.
Fortunately, they’re receiving overwhelming support from their East Tremont friends.
Cerini, who runs Bronx Tax Man out of 3600 E. Tremont Avenue has created an online fund to help Walter and his wife get back on their feet.
One donor offered to purchase Walter and Diane $800 worth of furniture when they finally settle down in their new home.
“At least we can buy them a bed,” Cerini said.
Councilman Mark Gjonaj is also looking into finding Walter and Diane a place to live in the Bronx.
“Even if it’s just a studio, we’ll take it,” Walter said. “It’s only the two of us so we don’t need much really,” he added.
To contribute to Walter and Diane’s fund, contact Cerini at (718) 829-1040.