Signs of rebirth in the Santa Cruz Mtns.

October 8, 2008 8:50:11 PM PDT
Four months after the devastating Summit Fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains, homeowners who lost everything are starting to rebuild. The fire started May 22nd, east of Corralitos after a smoldering controlled burn reignited.

In the fire scared hills above Corralitos, there are signs of rebirth.

"Every day you see a little more green and trees that look like they were dead are coming back. A lot of them are coming back," said Summit Fire victim Ron Wohnoutka.

In May, the Summit Fire charred 4,200 acres and destroyed 31 homes. Nine of them were on Ormsby Road.

They included Ron Wohnnoutka's home and his mother's house right across the road. Now numerous addresses are clear of burned out debris, but the only sounds of construction are coming from one lot -- that of Gertrude Wohnoutka.

Ron's mom is 88-years-old and they both wanted it rebuilt exactly as it was so that she would return to the home she knows.

The plans call for the same 12,088 square foot home she's lived in for nearly three decades. The disaster declaration streamlined the permitting process.

"She has one bedroom here, one bedroom in the corner and her bedroom right here on the right," said Ron Wohnoutka.

The crew is small, John from Oklahoma and Dan from Missouri.

"When he needed help, he hollered and I'm here," said fire victim's son John Wohnoutka.

Gertrude is also their mother and Ron their brother and they know the house like the back of their hand. They built it the first time 28 years ago. This time, they'll get some help putting up the trusses.

"In the old days, we swung them up there ourselves, but now that we're a little bit older we're going to have a crane come in and put them in place for us," said fire victim's son Dan Wohnoutka.

When fire destroys everything, it takes time to rebuild unless of course you are a band of brothers trying to get mom home for the holidays.

"That she can move in by Christmas, yeah that's what our goal is to have Christmas dinner in the house. We'll see," said John Wohnoutka.

The Wohnoutka's do have an advantage: it's a simple home, and the most powerful tool they have isn't in their hand, but their heart.


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