Ponderosa Fire victims share lessons learned

MANTON, Calif. - It has been almost two years since the Ponderosa fire ripped through Manton in northern Tehama County. The fire destroyed 52 homes, more than 80 outbuildings and burnt more than 20,000 acres.

As fire season starts this year those living in the area are preparing for it.

Nathan Burmeister is one of the people who lost their home . Burmeister said he won't be re-building his home due to high costs but considers himself lucky that half of his property was saved. And Burmeister thanks defensible space for that.

Burmeister said his Manton home is his part-time home. Burmeister and his wife live there from time to time. When he found out that his house was on fire he wasted no time and drove to his home. Burmeister said he couldn't believe his eyes.

"It was so hot the aluminum melted off everything, all the glass melted," Burmeister said.

Burmeister said when he heard about the fire he expected to lose everything. But when he was allowed back on his property after the fire was contained he found a surprise.

His cottage still standing.

Burmeister calls his cottage his "miracle house" since it was saved by defensible space.

"My wife every year clears all the pine needles from the ground and she'd cleaned all the way around the house about a month before," said Burmeister. "The fire was within 15 feet all the way around and it was astonishing."

And while he said he won't be re-building his old home due to the high cost he has started to clean and tend to the damaged areas.

"I have taken down probably 2,000 trees already that were damaged in the fire and now I'm re-planting, "said Burmeister. "I have a well and a pump house and I have water and can pull water out of this pond."

Burmeister said he learned a very important lesson.

"I'm very conscious now, cleaning up all the pine needles and stuff on the ground, my wife thinks that was probably significant in saving it," said Burmeister.

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