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Fairfield residents meet with city leaders over fire

August 29, 2013 6:29:29 PM PDT
The process of picking up the pieces continues in Fairfield where 15 homes were damaged earlier this week in a massive fire that spread from the freeway to the neighborhood. Thursday, city leaders met with residents and some of them want to know why there wasn't more defensible space behind their homes.

The last of the fire trucks that were mopping up pulled away Thursday afternoon, but not before fire and city officials met with residents on Marigold Drive who've lost so much to offer support and to hear their complaints.

There was one moment of joy amid so much sorrow for Fairfield's Verna and Gene Gray. It was a cherished family photo, pulled from the rubble of the Gray's Fairfield home. Until then, all the couple could do is sit and watch, as firefighters and their grown children sifted through the charred debris, looking for something, anything that could be salvaged.

"They just... brings tears to my eyes. I don't cry and I feel like crying," said Gene.

"Thirty-nine years of our life living in this house. We raised our kids, our grandkids and it's all gone," said Verna.

Several of the Gray's neighbors didn't lose their homes in Tuesday's seven-alarm fire, but the flames came awfully close.

"It could have been stopped, it could have been stopped!" said Jessie Shields, a homeowner.

And they blame the city for not cutting the tall grass behind their homes which is part of 30-foot-wide strip that separates their backyards from the sound wall near where the fire started.

"I want the city to take the blame. If that grass back there was cut, this fire wouldn't even happen," said Shields.

When asked who should be cutting the grass, homeowner Beverly Hatton said, "Either the city or the county, or state or somebody."

But Fairfield's Public Works director George Hicks says they need time to research exactly who's responsible for maintaining the grassy property behind the homes.

"The only thing I can confirm is that the property lines go to the back wall. There appears to be an easement in the back. I'm looking into the ownership and responsibilities associated with that easement," said Hicks.

While the city and determines what if any responsibility it has for the spread of this fire, the community is rallying to help these families put their lives back together. For instance, the local Ford dealership has pledged to donate $100 per car sold this Labor Day weekend to the fire victims.


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