A year ago, the massive 280,000 acre plus Thomas Fire was still raging out of control in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. It destroyed more than a thousand structures, including hundreds of homes in the City of Ventura. Now, there is a milestone in recovery efforts. The first home in the city to be rebuilt is complete.
A party is underway in a beautiful home in the foothills above Ventura . There are Christmas decorations everywhere. But, that’s not what this party is really about. This home, in the Clearpoint neighborhood, is the first home rebuilt in the City of Ventura following last December’s deadly, and destructive Thomas brush fire.
The nearly 3000 square foot home on Scenic Way belongs to Sandy and Ed Fuller. Sandy Fuller was at home the night of the fire, and her husband was at a church event in Camarillo when the blaze headed toward the house. Ed Fuller came home, and along with one of their kids they were able to grab some paintings, papers, and other family mementos before they were forced to flee.
They drove down the hill as the flames approached, and from the safety of a friend’s home, watched as the entire neighborhood was decimated.
Ed Fuller says they not only decided to rebuild, they decided to set a target of this Christmas, which many people thought was crazy. Most people were telling them than two years was realistic. The couple bought the 1970’s era house in 2011, and spent the last few years remodeling, so a lot of contractors were familiar with it. They say some of them called them right after the fire, offering help.
They changed the floor plan, reducing the number of rooms but making them much larger. It highlights the incredible views of Western Ventura County, the ocean, and some of the Channel Islands from the hillside. Architect James McGarry, who worked on the project, calls it a Christmas miracle.
Now, the house is full of neighbors and friends, celebrating the milestone. The Fullers have some tips for the thousands of people going through the same process as a result of the Thomas, Whittier, Holiday, and Woolsey fires in the region, as well as the Montecito debris flow.
They say you have to be prepared to work on rebuilding every day, and have a list of tasks so something like picking out new tile doesn’t hold up work. The Fullers have reminders all around them that recovery process is far from over for many. Their neighborhood was decimated, and it now ranges from some empty lots to some homes nearing completion.
But, they say they are overwhelmed that for the holidays, they will be able to host all four of their kids, and their families, in their rebuilt home.