Smoke from CA fire
(Photo credit: Vadim Kurland / Flickr)

During a record-breaking heatwave in mid-August, thunderstorms hit Northern California. Lightning ignited dry vegetation and soon, wildfires burned out of control, including in northern Santa Cruz county.

“We’ve never seen one like this in my lifetime here … or ever,” says Jaimi Jansen, a local homeowner.

Jansen evacuated as the fires approached. Soon after, she was told that the flames had engulfed her home. At first, she felt numb.

“And then someone gave me a hug, and that’s when I broke down and cried and I just sobbed,” she says.

But then different news arrived. A firefighter had saved her house.

“So the relief I had was just, like, wow, that’s so incredible,” she says. “And joy – and also guilt because here’s this guy who risked his life to save my home, and his is burned to the ground.”

Still, it could be a year before Jansen’s home is livable again. Even then, life will not be the same.

“Every day for the rest of my life living there, I will remember the trauma,” she says. “I get to look out my door and see the scarring on the land … so I’m going to just, you know, find the silver linings. And I think that, really, it’s not the property, it’s not the trees, it’s not the house, it’s the people.”

So she’s thrown herself into helping others get relief and supplies, so her beloved community can rebuild.

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Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Arts & Culture, Weather Extremes