ABC7 gives CZU Complex Fire evacuees first look at loss as some prepare for long road to recovery

ByStephanie Sierra and Kris Reyes KGO logo
Friday, August 28, 2020
ABC7 gives Bay Area fire evacuees first look at loss
ABC7 gives Bay Area fire evacuees a first glimpse at what they lost as some prepare for the long road to recovery.

BOULDER CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- The Bay Area wildfires have left a path of destruction throughout many communities and counties in our area.

Many fled their homes as those fires raged, not knowing what they would return to.

RELATED: Check if your home was damaged by CZU, LNU Complex Fires in Santa Cruz, Napa, Solano, Lake counties

On Thursday, ABC7 was able to give two families a first glimpse at what they had lost during these devastating fires.

"I honestly don't want to go through the rumble, but it's something that I'm going to have to do," said Mandy Lariz.

Their home sits at the corner of Acorn and Leafwood in Boulder Creek. A neighborhood that was home to Mandy and her husband Matt Lariz for 17 years. The two built their life together in this purple house.

Image of Lariz
Image of Lariz' family home that was destroyed by the CZU Complex Fire.

"It's a lot of memories, raising our kids, and having puppies and kittens... jumping on the trampoline," said Lariz. "We were just a regular family doing regular things."

Now, only a few tiles remain on their property. Their home is one of more than 630 in Santa Cruz County that was destroyed.

Sadly, this isn't the first time for Mandy and Matt Lariz.

"In 2003, our home burnt down right there," she said in tears. "That's our rebuild."

It's these stories of loss that surround the hazy skies in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

VIDEO: Video shows devastation, smoky orange skies from Bay Area wildfires

Burned out cars, orange smoky skies. Here's a look at video showing some of the devastating views from the Bay Area as three massive wildfire complexes tore through the region in Aug. 2020.

One house is gone - next to another untouched. It seems unfair, but the Lariz' don't see it that way.

"Even though it's really hard to lose our home, I'm very grateful that we're safe and we're together," she said.

The two holding onto each other embracing what memories may be left behind.

"I know somewhere in there we'll find treasures and it will mean a lot to us."

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the Lariz' family start over, if you would like to donate click here.

VIDEO: Boulder Creek resident reacts to first glimpse at home destroyed by wildfire

Megan O'Mahony was born and raised in the South Bay but when it came time to invest in a home and raise her family, she and her husband couldn't afford to live anywhere in the Bay Area.

Megan O'Mahony was born and raised in the South Bay but when it came time to invest in a home and raise her family, she and her husband couldn't afford to live anywhere in the Bay Area.

Last month, they moved into their dream home.

Boulder Creek was a place they could afford and with a community they could be a part of. Then, the fires came.

When she found out that her home burned down, her least riskiest choice was to move in with her parents who are in their mid-70s, despite COVID-19.

"My parents are in their mid-70s and it was not my first choice to come here," said O'Mahony, "That's definitely a stressor nobody needs but it's something we need to face right now."

Like other residents in Boulder Creek, the O'Mahonys first got word of the fires last week. They got an evacuation order but held out hope that it was just for smoke. In a matter of days, that all changed dramatically.

"We had 45 minutes of a mad dash," she said, describing her last visit to the home to take a video of what was inside which include new furniture.

VIDEO: Staggering footage of lightning storm that started Bay Area fire complexes

Check out the compilation video above to see some of the most staggering lightning scenes captured by our ABC7 cameras and our viewers around the Bay Area.

Then came the call from her neighbor, the house was gone.

"We love everyone on that street, we love where our house is. It was such a special house and it can never be replaced," said O'Mahony.

She knows that many in her community are going through the exact same feelings.

"We just pray for the whole community and just hope we all get through this together," said O'Mahony.

It's all she can do for now, until it's time to return.

"Yes, I want to build a new story and I don't want to give up and the only way I can see doing that is to keep going in the same area on the same property," said O'Mahony.

App users: For a better experience, click here to view the full map in a new window