Volunteers clear debris from burned Kings Canyon house
A missionary from Western Samoa swung an ax Saturday in the burned yard surrounding a home destroyed by the Waterfall fire. He sang out with each swing, voice resonating through the blackened forest of Kings Canyon.
“My song has no name,” he said. “I made it up. It’s just to encourage my friends to work hard.”
Elder McFarland was one of about 40 people who converged on the ash-covered ruins of Doug and Diane Kelly’s Kings Canyon Road house for a cleanup party. Volunteers – many from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – shoveled debris out to expose the concrete foundation.
“The first thing we did was carry out all the heavy appliances and stack them in the driveway,” said event organizer and next-door neighbor Nick Serrano. An engineer would be coming out Monday to inspect the foundation and determine if it was re-usable, he said. Volunteers dumped wheelbarrow loads into a pile where a backhoe shoveled them away, giving the engineer a clear view.
Serrano came up with the idea when members of his church ward asked what they could do to help.
“It’s the least we could do,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do on our property, but at least we still have our home. The Kelly house is such a greater need. So we wanted to make sure that was our first priority.”
Fire Marshall Stacey Giomi was there, as was Secretary of State Dean Heller and his family. More volunteers baked cookies and made sandwiches up at the Serrano home.
Carson-Tahoe Hospital donated face masks to filter dusty air. The Home Depot donated 12 pairs of gloves, three saws and a shovel.
“We want to thank everyone who showed up to help us out,” said Doug Kelly, wiping dirty sweat from his brow. “It’s just wonderful.”
He sifted through the ash, looking for items to show insurance adjusters. Among the items lost were his 45-year collection of model trains. Volunteers walked by with handfuls of his wife’s bent, discolored jewelry.
“And I lost my (wedding) ring,” Kelly said, holding up a naked hand. “So we’re starting over, basically.”
Among volunteers helping out were neighbors Laurie and Ernie Walsh. Their horses had been neighbors with the Kelly’s before the fire. The horses were also neighbors at Fuji Park after mandatory evacuations. The Walshes lost their hay barn, their tack room and 50 years worth of equipment, but their house was safe.
“This makes losing my tack room look pretty small,” said Laurie Walsh, gazing at the stone ruins of the Kelly house.
Another volunteer was Elder Carbajal. Saturday was the fourth day of his two-year mission to Carson City from Santa Lucia, a town near Montevideo in Uruguay.
“I came to do this,” he said with a smile.
Contact Karl Horeis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.