September 30, 2021 | by Steve Elliott
California-Nevada ERT volunteers work to recover personal items from burned out home.
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The outcomes of looking for anything that made it – grandma’s ring, a couple of figurines, one of the horse bookends, a favorite coffee mug. And just a few things more. That’s all that we could find. But we tried.
This past weekend, volunteers from the Placerville church joined members of the California-Nevada Early Response Team to assist survivors of the Caldor Fire in searching burned-out homes for possessions that did not burn up. But wildfires burn so hot, most everything is ash, melted or completely incinerated.
We focused on homes in Grizzly Flats, above Placerville in the Sierra Foothills. All of the homes use to be nestled in beautiful, forested settings.
It was the first time back for one of the homeowners. What an emotional moment. At another site, a young couple and their two boys had built their home on land that had been in their family for 100 years. Six other relatives lost their homes on that same acreage. None of them insured. We found part of the coin collection that the grandfather had given the young father, blackened beyond recognition.
For another couple, we retrieved bits of burned jewelry, a few pieces of china from what use to be a spacious home situated on a scenic pond. Certainly, these bits will become treasured reminders of a place now lost.
For us, and the survivors, the most important thing about all this, is not what we found, but that we showed up, offering a Christian, caring presence. We walked along side grieving people for a few hours. As we parted company, all of us hot and grimy in our hazmat suits, we offered a blessing for each family and a prayer of hope. Amen.