Tuesday, September 1, 2009

49 Fire: Auburn, CA

A rapidly moving fire devastated a commercial and residential area in the town of Auburn, CA, just east of where we live. Jack, along with 60 other homeowners, lost his house and everything in it. The following morning, still probably in shock, he showed up at the meeting where he always shows up on Monday mornings. Other people there were wearing the clothes they had on when the evacuation order came to them the day before. Their houses were spared, but they weren’t allowed back into the neighborhood.

We always read about fires; right now we’re hearing about the fire storm raging almost unabated in Southern California. This fire felt very different. It was just up the road, affecting friends and for some people, relatives. Jack was able to save his dog, but not his cat. I found myself being particularly affectionate to our cat, Blue, and wondering if we could catch him in time to put him in a cat carrier, if there were a fire. He tends to hide when he’s frightened.

Although 60 houses were destroyed, as far as is known, there was no loss of life – or at least human life. How many memories, wedding pictures, souvenirs of good times, were lost? How can insurance policies cover the track trophies, golf trophies, favorite toys or stuffed animals of children? The quilt handed down? The quilt just made?

How long will it take people to recover from the fear of not knowing if their children, parents, friends had gotten out safely?

I came home from the meeting, and looked around my house. What would I save if an evacuation order came? Blue, the cat, of course. What about the pictures on the walls – painted by Lisa, or Linda, or Fred, or Ron who died in 2006? What about the computer which holds every bit of our life stories, as well as all the pictures we’ve taken in recent years with our digital cameras? What about my mother’s silver?

The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army are accepting donations for victims of the fire. They are especially in need of money donations.

The Salvation Army is also asking for nonperishable food and hydration items, clothes and unopened toiletries. You can donate money to the Salvation Army at the community center at 286 Sutter Street in Auburn from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Mon-Fri, or mailed to P.O. Box 4088, Auburn, CA 95604.

The Red Cross is only accepting monetary donations. Their Auburn office is located at 457 Grass Valley Hwy. Suite 8, Auburn, CA 95603.

To designate cash donations to victims of the fire, write "49 Fire" on the memo line of checks.