" We could see the flames coming over the hills, we loaded up, by the time we were loaded up there were flames spitting out all around" explained Concow resident Teresa Taylor. She emotionally recalls the devastating fires which ripped through her home of thirty years, leaving her and her husband with little more than the clothes on their back.
" It was just... It was terrible, and trying to see who was there with us that we know who got out, cause it was just all so fast" Taylor said. The 2008 Lightning Complex fires which demolished the small community of Concow burned just over 59,000 acres, destroying more than 100 homes that were in it's path. " We were beside ourselves, you don't know where to start, what to do, we were in shock trying to evacuate what we had, what we lost... Which was just about everything" Taylor recalled.
But Teresa and her husband consider themselves lucky. While their home was destroyed in the fire, there were able to rebuild and return to normal living, something other's have yet to obtain. " There's people that are still living in vans and stuff, people that had no insurance to rebuild still today and it's been two years" Taylor explained.
One of those unlucky few is Concow resident James Hart. " Right before I left, I looked at the house and I remember thinking... I wonder if I'll ever see it again" Hart said. James never did see his house again, and he lost everything he owned as well. " It was a shock, it was just a shock seeing everything gone even though I thought that maybe it was anyway" Hart explained.
But James had no idea that the worst was yet to come. His true nightmare began after he tried to get a disaster loan from the small business administration to rebuild his home. And now after living in a motor home for close to two years his home is nearly complete. "I had to appeal it three times to get the loan, so that took a year and a half and finally after two years I'm getting the house finished" Hart said.
While the nightmare of the fires remain fresh in the minds of many, most say they're thankful to be back home. " Our place doesn't look the same, but it's still home and it has it's beauty in it's way now too" Taylor said.