Tom Francois, still living in a rental duplex, but not for long, and without complaints.
The secret, here...that homeowners went to the original builders and stuck close to those plans. Sonoma County Builders negotiated early for materials and manpower. Since the, the square foot cost has increased by 10 percent. #abc7now #sonomastrong pic.twitter.com/8DDcRL6Lyo— Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) September 4, 2018
"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."
If there were a race to rebuild homes in Fountaingrove, Tom Francois would be your winner. "I don't care who moves in first," he said. It's a small miracle in the Miramonte Section, where 10 homes are almost complete. #abc7now #sonomastrong pic.twitter.com/bfIeHpxXfh— Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) September 4, 2018
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.
Tom Francois is 77 years old and still coaches baseball at Santa Rosa Jr. College. He's infectiously optimistic, despite losing his wife to cancer, a leg to blood clots, and this home in the fire. "Life Happens," he says. The man has never stopped living. #abc7now #sonomastrong pic.twitter.com/JuWFn2JRq0— Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) September 4, 2018
"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.
Tom will be moving in on September 15th. "My daughter will do the decorating. I'm a guy. No good at that stuff." #abc7now #sonomastrong A big family and #faith got him through. "I have no reason to feel sorry for myself. Am blessed." pic.twitter.com/NjipW5wpWP— Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) September 4, 2018