Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Determined to rebuild in Deerhorn Valley

Posted @ 10:44 AM

Among the only unscathed possessions at Frieda Williams' Deerhorn Valley home Monday was a bottle of organic salsa.

Surrounded by rocky, burned out hillsides high in the backcountry, Williams' home looked like the scene of an explosion, its contents spilled across the driveway. Along with the salsa, there were shriveled up plastic bottles of iced tea and blackened soda cans. The taillight on her pick up truck had melted, and one of its windows popped out.

Williams, 52, a nurse, didn't touch anything for safety reasons. So there she stood, with a couple of insurance agents, near her cracked, decimated five-bedroom home, relying on her memories of what was once there. Hers was one of dozens of homes destroyed in this rural community last week.

In a way, it was easier for Williams to list what was left: her dogs, her other car, a few T-shirts, jeans and pairs of underwear.

"What can you do?" she asked. "Either you go down or you survive and get a better life."

The piles of debris continued to give off heat, as if it was baking at a low temperature.

"It takes a while to cool down," said Mike Mohler, a Cal Fire spokesman standing with Williams. "Like a big brick oven, it stays warm for a while."

Williams pointed to a surviving photo showing what her home looked like up until just eight days ago.

"I'm going to rebuild," Williams said. "And I want it to look just like that...'cause I have to say, I really liked my house."

- Michele Clock, staff writer

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