Wildfire Week

Paradise couple regroups after losing belongings in 2 house fires in 9 months

Lessons learned the hard way

PARADISE, Calif. - "Everyday I think of it," said Patty Wilson.

"It's in the back of the mind," agreed husband Jerry Wilson. 

The Wilsons still ache, thinking of what was lost when the house they were renting in the Feather River was destroyed by fire a year ago.  

Everything they owned was lost, including treasured family photos, home movies and heirlooms left from Patty's parents. The Wilsons were in the rental house only because the house they owned in Paradise fell victim to an electrical fire just nine months earlier. 

The saving grace was that they had children who welcomed them into their home until their house was reconstructed in December. The Wilsons spent $120,000 to upgrade their house, but it's not the same without the treasured photographs and home movies.

"It's not what we were used to," said Patty, who's lived in the house since she was a baby. "I still feel like I'm living in someone else's house."

Perhaps that would be different if someone could magically bring back those photographs and videos. "That could be priceless, really," she said. 

The lesson the Wilsons wished they'd learned sooner is to protect the memories by copying photographs to a hard drive left somewhere other than the house. And there's one other word of warning.

"Don't think lightning won't strike twice, because it can," said Jerry. 


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