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PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — Eddie Brinson arrived home hoping to find something that survived the most devastating fire in California history.
Unfortunately, when he rolled-up to his residence on Lewis Ranch Road in Paradise, all he saw were ruins of a once proud, two-story home.
"It's hard to be strong for your wife and your family when you're not being strong for yourself," said Brinson.
His wife Jessica was home the morning of the fire with her 3-year old grandson. She was able to escape the fire. Eddie was working as a millwright in Richmond when the flames raced towards their home.
Not much is left that is salvageable except for a few metal pieces of art. Among the keepsakes lost, a San Francisco Giants memorabilia collection along with family heirlooms that are irreplaceable.
"There's a certain curve just past my house I would always see when I am out of town. When I ‘round that corner, I see there's home and I know I'm home. My family's there. It's time to enjoy life. I rounded that corner and there was nothing," added Brinson.
A long line of vehicles waited at a law enforcement checkpoint on Neal Road, checking identifications of residents. On Saturday at 9 a.m., all remaining evacuation orders for the Town of Paradise were lifted.
Across the street from the Brinson home it was a much different story for Tim Proctor and his dog Rollie. Flames raced right up to his two-story home. However, the only thing destroyed was his company work vehicle parked outside.
"I'm one of the lucky ones. It's still standing. There's a little bit of ash in there. And, my windows were closed, so just virtually no damage," Proctor said.
Unfortunately, for many, it was all damage and destruction. For the first time, Nick Johnson was allowed onto his parent's property to see what he could find worth saving. With the exception of a few wrenches and a vintage coffee pot, everything was left in ruins.
"A lot of motorcycles, some musical equipment. My dad had a spare garage where he did like motorcycle building and hot rod work, so all that's gone," said Johnson.
Johnson says his parents won't rebuild. They are already looking for a home in Nevada to be near a son.
However, Eddie Brinson is defiant. He vows to stay.
"We feed the deer. We watch the turkeys. We ride the foiler around the mountainside. So, we'll get through the process like everyone else and we'll rebuild," Brinson said.
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