Couple returns to burned Santa Rosa home after wildfires

Despite chimneys, rubble and the shells of burned-out vehicles remaining on these people's properties, they're hopeful of rebuilding. (Nov. 3, 2017)

Until you see the devastation with your own eyes, it's hard to appreciate exactly how widespread it is.

Yvonne and Enrique Hernandez have lived on Crestview Drive in Santa Rosa's Coffey Park area for 32 years.

"Lot of memories. Raised two boys, two grandchildren," Mr. Hernandez said.

On Thursday, they returned to the site of what was once their home, before October's wildfires burned it-- and all of their neighbors' houses-- to the ground.

"It's a big shock," Mr. Hernandez said. "It still is."

Only chimneys, rubble and the shells of burned-out vehicles remain on these people's property and yet the Hernandez couple said they're hopeful about rebuilding.

"That's a plant I planted and it wants to come back," Mrs. Hernandez said, pointing to a small, bright-green plant poking up from her otherwise scorched garden.

She said she sees it as a sign.

"Yeah, we're going to rebuild," Mr. Hernandez said.

The couple returned to their home Thursday to look for Mrs. Hernandez's wedding ring.

"The first two weeks were really, really emotional. I couldn't stop crying," Mrs. Hernandez said. "I'll have moments. But you know, you get homesick and I want to go home. I can't go home anymore. It's right here."

The couple is living with one of their sons, whose home is also in Santa Rosa but was unscathed by the fires.

The Hernandez couple's Coffey Park neighborhood was inaccessible to the public until this week, when officials re-opened Hopper Avenue. Now, neighbors and curious onlookers are trickling in to witness and assess the destruction.

RELATED: Before wildfire rebuild, hazardous materials must go

The losses come at the same time Enrique Hernandez is battling esophageal cancer.

"This is only my second time since the fire because I'm sick, you know, and I didn't want to put myself in any danger here as far as breathing any of the toxins," he said.

Still, the couple is determined to get through this stronger than ever. They said it could be upward of two or three years before they get their home rebuilt.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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