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Forest Fire Aftermath
Old 03-20-2017, 04:32 PM   #1
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Forest Fire Aftermath

The forest fires of 2016 covered many millions of acres, and devastated tens of thousands of families who lost their homes, or who had beautiful views and woods and neighborhoods destroyed. After the fires were off the nightly news, we saw very little of the aftermath. This left me wondering how people were coping with the losses. The exquisite homes on mountainsides in California, for instance...
Would like to know about how the fire victims are handling the awful interruption of their lives.

I found this link, but it doesn't show the human side of the fires...

If you have time, any links or info would be appreciated.

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Old 03-20-2017, 09:09 PM   #2
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I live in Northern California and we lost everything we own to a wildland fire. By everything, I mean I made it out with the shorts I was wearing and that's all. Didn't even grab my wallet or glasses.
My wife grabbed one of our dogs and her purse. Everything else burned for 3 days so nothing was left. I posted about it on here someplace. If I find it, I'll attach a link. This happened July 16th 2006. Now, over 10 years later, we have rebuilt and feel back at 'home' again. I planted almost 500 trees that are making a good come-back as well as lots of other landscaping. Our insurance company was awesome. In every stage, they were our advocates not adversaries. The told us we were one of the lucky ones that our house was a total loss so we could rebuild anything we wanted. We combined all our policy payouts; house, personal property, landscaping, outbuildings, property improvements, RV, boats, motorcycle, etc plus some of our own cash and built our dream home; a log house. My friends call it the chalet. Ha!

As with most disasters, as they are going down, you are in survival mode; just doing what you need to do. It's afterwards that you have time to worry about it all. My insurance adjuster set my mind at ease. He told me that it was arson, they caught the suspect red handed, that they would max out the limits of all my policies since I had everything from cars to home insured with them and that since I lost everything, they would add 10% more than the policy max payment would be. By the end of one year, we had been paid over $680,000 from the insurance company plus they paid for a rental home, fully furnished, plus any expenses that we would not have otherwise encountered if we had not suffered a loss. Heck, they even paid for me to go on charter fishing trips since I had a boat and it wasn't reimbursed yet. The rental was so complete, it even had toilet paper and laundry soap provided when we moved in. Not a dime for any of that. Lawn mowing service paid until I got the lawnmower replaced, stuff like that.

The tragedy was hard on my wife. This wasn't just a house for her, it was where she raised our family, homeschooled our kids, grew food and tended livestock. Me? As most guys, it was the place I lived when I wasn't working. Hardly saw it in the winters when I left for work in the dark and didn't arrive home until after dark again.

We lost the unreplacables; photos, mementos, personal stuff you can't replace. We did survive without much injury. I was scorched pretty good since I didn't have a shirt on. My wife not physically harmed at all. Our hardest loss was our family Labrador. My hunting dog and queen of the house. I think she got scared and ran back inside somehow. As a yellow lab, I could barely see her with all the smoke and thought she ran when I did. I found her chain collar, but that was all. The fire was so intense, no bones were left.

I'm glad it happened when I was relatively young; 50 years old. I had planned to ER that year, in October. We were three days away from a vacation to Glacier National Park. I stayed working another 5 years to refurbish the house as we spent all the insurance money building the house. I figured the house would be an investment and I didn't need anything for two years since the insurance company paid for all rentals for that period of time. I ER'd in 2012 and we've been improving the homestead ever since, building driveways, barn, landscaping, etc.

Our new home;

If you want to see the whole house after we rebuilt and furnished it, you can view here;

Front Door/porch View W/log Bench. Photo by skipro33 | Photobucket

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Old 03-20-2017, 09:40 PM   #3
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Skipro, I am at a loss for words, all I can say is WOW.
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Old 03-20-2017, 09:45 PM   #4
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Here's a link to a previous forum with some other info. Scroll down to see photos of the house as I was finishing it;

Worth it to switch insurers?
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Old 03-20-2017, 09:56 PM   #5
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That's awesome Skipro. Very nice

We didn't lose anything but in 2003 there was a big fire across my commuting route to Central oregon. Very pretty route with many Ponderosa pines. Driving through as soon as it opend there were still smoldering fires next to the highway, Devastation was everywhere. It still saddens me as i drive past and see burned trees & stumps. Next to the highway then up & over the ridges. As far as the eye can see.

again not much if any structure loss. just timber

Here is a chronology of the day to day. Couple years ago there was a bigger fire that burned until the Fall rains started that was a bigger fire
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:39 AM   #6
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I went through a wildfire a few years ago in Arizona hill country. No damage to the house but it did burn everything around it, looked like a moonscape for awhile. The fire is usually only half the problem, the first big rains after the fire can cause just as much damage as the fire.
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Old 03-21-2017, 11:50 AM   #7
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Not related to the wildfires but I have known 3 people who lost everything in the home to fire.

My brother's ancient log home(records said 3rd oldest home in the county) burnt to the ground during remodeling. He didn't have much, I remember digging through stuff occasionally something survived. Insurance didn't pay much for a 200 year old log cabin.

My buddy moved to KC with everything he had post divorce in a huge old Chrysler. Six months later he was out of the apartment on a date and when he came home, the roads blocked off. The officer told him the apartment was gone, the boiler underneath had blown up. They assumed he was dead. Some of my clothes fit him and he quickly found a place. Again he didn't have much and no insurance.

The third was a part owner of the mill I worked at. That day the senior owner announced the place was broke, your fired, if there's any proceeds from the auction I'll let you know. He was out a job and his anticipated retirement.

He had a nice place outside KC on a rural 40 acres. That night he sees orange in the sky, the roofs on fire! Spark from his wood stove caused it. Volunteer rural fire department is there as the homes pretty well enveloped in flames. They use the tanker and try to use the pond. They had a new pump and the one guy who knew how to use it wasn't available. He stood with the FD and watched the place burn to the ground. He did have insurance that paid.

I didn't see him for a couple of years and by then he'd recovered a lot, mentally and financially. He wasn't a guy who dwelled on it, but he did say it was one of the worst experiences he'd had.

My empathy to anyone who's lost it all like that.
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Old 03-21-2017, 12:05 PM   #8
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We are thinking about buying some land in Eastern Washington in an area that burned in 2014.

I figure if it already burned, there is little underbrush to fan another fire for at least a few years.

Also very cheap land now, and beautiful in the winter for riding snow machines.
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Old 03-21-2017, 02:11 PM   #9
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You have a beautiful home. I am so sorry about the loss of your dog.
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Old 03-21-2017, 04:05 PM   #10
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Nice recovery, Skipro33. And sorry for your losses as well.

The wilderness is calling and I must go.
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