First home completed in Santa Rosa's Fountaingrove after wildfire destroyed community

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- The first rebuilt home has been completed in Santa Rosa's Fountaingrove community after the North Bay wildfires destroyed the area.

Tom Francois, still living in a rental duplex, but not for long, and without complaints.

"It's all candy bars and ice cream," said the most optimistic and grateful person we have met in eleven months of fire stories.

And that from a 77 year-old who lost his home, his left leg to blood clots, and a wife to cancer. "That is a picture of my wife and me." It hangs, almost larger than life, on the wall of his bedroom. Carol passed at age 70 after 52 years together. She is Tom's soft spot and inspiration.

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"What would she say about what you have been through?" we asked.

"Acceptance. She was very philosophical even with the cancer."

When the Tubbs Fire burned through Fountaingrove, it certainly didn't spare the Miramonte section.

Tom's house is the first that is ready for moving in.

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"I just love it," he said after walking through the door.

Eleven months later, Sonoma County Builders will finish three within two weeks and three more next month. They put up the subdivision originally and kept to those plans---which may be a lesson for victims of future fires.

"Get in and get these decisions made early. Get plans early so you can get a contractor and get started," said Dave Keith, who runs the company.

The strategy certainly worked in this case. Since last October, construction prices have increased by ten percent. Tom beat that, and got the job done in eleven months.

He says it's what Carol would have wanted. "She is always with me," he said.

"I don't want to use the word miraculous, here...but there has been intervention. Divine intervention," he said.

For more stories related to the North Bay Fires, visit this page.

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