The Resource and Recovery Center for the Butte Fire is all but closed. School children are still dropped off at the center where they can get a snack and wait for their parents to pick them up when they get off work. When we pulled in, this is what greeted us.
Two kids on the left are 5th graders, two on the right are 6th graders, enjoying some chips and dip. They told me they were building houses out of cardboard boxes.
A bit crowded to be sure. One girl held the flap open while I took the picture.
This is a two room house, they bragged. I was impressed.
The 5th graders invited me into their house.
They had each made a cardboard bed with a cardboard stuffed pillow and an extra piece of cardboard for padding. Well done. I could see the signs of healing in their smiling faces.As we walked away from the kids, I saw a woman watching them and she was hanging back. I told her they were building houses. She said, “I’m so glad my son is building a house. He needs that right now.” We both got a bit emotional. I could not have predicted how much this fire affected me from my house burning down when I was about the same age as these kids.
At the back of the Center is a tent city.
A huge truck with washing machines provides laundry. I didn’t see it yesterday, but did the day I had volunteered. A sign also announces the showers are available between 8 am to 8 pm, every day. There are portable toilets on the grounds as well. Not the way you choose to live, but a welcome necessity.
Stacks of rice straw are available to burn victims to distribute on their land to help prevent erosion during the coming rains of winter
We drove up toward Railroad Flat. Jim got a first hand look at the devastation. One property had a sign, Looters Will Be Shot. Since my son’s place was burglarized during the fire, I could understand their fears.
This picture really got to me. It was obvious at this site that the owners had gone through the wreckage and pulled things out and stacked them in painful little piles; a reminder of my folks doing the same thing. I remember searching for my rosary I’d just gotten for Christmas. My mother fascinated and tearful over a jar of change she’d been saving where coins and glass were melted together.
We were beyond Mountain Ranch and here the power lines in two or more places were still on the ground. You can see the line temporarily attached to a tree to keep it up off the road so cars could pass under. Most of the power poles themselves survived the fire. Jim was amazed that so many trees were still standing. He thought they would be flat on the ground. Of course, many standing will die and have to be removed. Trees with an X on them scheduled for removal. I only saw one large tree with an L on it for leave. Then we visited the local VFW and quaffed a beer and washed away the imaginary ashes in our mouths.