A Fire Story – Two Years Later

Two years ago, in October 2017, Brian and Karen Fies’ home was among
the thousands that burned to the ground in the infamous Tubbs Fire.

In late March [2019], nearly 18 months after Fies and his wife Karen fled the wildfire that destroyed roughly 3,000 Santa Rosa homes and more than 5,300 countywide, they finally moved back in.

They were only the fourth family at that time to do so in their Mark West Estates neighborhood, where some 200 homes were lost.

The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat is looking at the lives of those affected and how they are coping. Earlier this month the paper checked in with Brian.

“It’s awful dark and quiet out here when you don’t have many neighbors. There are deer and jackrabbits running all over the place. It’s a little wild,” Fies said. “I feel like we’re living in this patchwork, Frankenstein’s monster of a neighborhood, half alive and half dead. The lot next to me is empty. There are still dead trees around. There are still pockmarks in the street where our garbage cans melted. I kind of hope they don’t fix the street. I like having that little scar on the pavement there. That means something. I don’t know what.”

Brian drew a few pages for the paper, and for an expanded edition of his A Fire Story.

Read the update about Brian and Karen, their lives since the fire and since the book;
also a few pages of the graphic addendum that is not in your current copy of “A Fire Story.”

“When we sifted through the ashes after the fire, Karen and I collected anything recognizable, wrapped it up in newspaper and put it in a plastic bin to save,” Fies remembered. “Now it’s almost two years after the fire, and just a week or two ago, I sat down to go through one of those bins. I opened the lid, and I started to unwrap the paper and I noticed the newspaper had the date — whatever it was, a couple of weeks after the fire — and I just couldn’t do anymore. I just I had to stop and put the lid back on. I wasn’t ready. I don’t know if and when I will be.”


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