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TV Outages in Eastern Panhandle

California Homeowners Find Their House Still Standing After Camp Fire

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A few days ago, all of the evacuation orders from the Camp Fire were lifted around Paradise, Calif. Many people drove back into town to take a look at their destroyed homes. But the fire did spare the occasional house. From our member station KQED, Polly Stryker has the story.

POLLY STRYKER, BYLINE: Steve and Kari Eurotas (ph), ages 64 and 60, have the lone house standing in their immediate neighborhood. It's nearly 3,000 square feet, vaulted ceiling, wood stove, deck overlooking a valley of trees. We go inside.

KARI EUROTAS: There's no water. No power. No...

STEVE EUROTAS: You'll see in the kitchen, there's a house plant that is just, you know, dead.

STRYKER: The home is a time capsule to November 8, when the Camp Fire forced them to evacuate.

K. EUROTAS: Everything is the way it was when we left. There's a dried-up...

S. EUROTAS: It's amazing.

K. EUROTAS: ...Bowl of oatmeal, or something, on the counter.

S. EUROTAS: Cream of Wheat with raspberries. Pardon the odor, but that's our refrigerator. Don't open the refrigerator.

K. EUROTAS: Yeah. Don't do that.

STRYKER: It's bizarre, but the smell is about the only thing wrong with the home, when almost everything around them lies in ruins. I ask Kari how she feels about this.

K. EUROTAS: Very, very mixed. I'm not super excited that it's standing, but I just think - I'm going to start crying - limits a lot of our choices. And most of our friends are leaving and not rebuilding.

STRYKER: They don't face the tough choices that their friends do because their house is still there. They won't get a total loss on their insurance, likely just smoke damage. But they can't move back yet. So they're living in a single-wide mobile home with friends in Chico. If they could leave, would they?

K. EUROTAS: Now? Probably. Yeah, probably. It's really hard 'cause all my family's lost their homes, and our friends. And so it's kind of like our Paradise is gone.

STRYKER: There was one thing Steve had to get from the house before they headed back into Chico.

S. EUROTAS: It's very dear to me this time of year. It's my red and white suit. (Laughter).

K. EUROTAS: He's been Santa every year (laughter).

STRYKER: Normally, Steve would be all booked up for - ahem - celebrity appearances, but...

S. EUROTAS: You know? But it's, like, there's no parties in Paradise this year. No Christmas parties.

STRYKER: Their plan had been to sell in a couple of years so they could retire in Chico. But with the uncertainty in the real estate market and the future of Paradise, that's all on hold now. At some point, Steve and Kari will probably have to come back to live in a town they hardly recognize. For NPR News, I'm Polly Stryker. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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