Bill Hill and his wife Verna have a new appreciation for the community since their home burned down last September in the Clover Fire.
“We have high hopes to live out the last part of our lives right here, and enjoy the countryside,” Hill said.
It’s been nearly a year since the Clover Fire broke out. It started on September 9, two days after the Hill’s 51st anniversary.
“Every year we see people lose their homes to wildland fires, and just devastated by the whole thing,” Hill said. “And [you] never really understood how bad it was until it happens to you, and you don’t even have a toothbrush.”
The Hill family has been living in a camp trailer ever since the fire. They first lived at their son-in-law’s home in Happy Valley, but for the past three weeks they’ve been back on their own property.
Despite all the pain, heartache and expense, it’s been a confirmation of their belief in the Northstate community.
They’re stockpiling supplies in a newly completed shop building, including a gift from a neighbor.
“He came in one day and said, 'I see you guys are setting up, getting started again,'” Hill said. “’I got a refrigerator almost brand new,’ he says. ‘Would you like to have it?’ So we’ve got pots and pans and dishes and a waffle iron, and that’s it. I’m going to start crying here in a minute.”
Hill said the one thing he would like to do is to bring the person who started the fire to see the damage that was done.
Former firefighter Zane Peterson is in jail, suspected of arson for the Clover Fire.
Despite the heartache, Hill called it a blessing in disguise.
“The story's not about out house. It's about the people up here,” Hill said. “It is definitely a blessing in disguise. Not for the material things that we will receive because of the disaster, but our love and appreciation for the community up here."