MIDDLETOWN (CBS13) — Parts of Lake County were wiped off the map as home after home were burned to the ground in a matter of hours in this weekend’s Valley Fire.
Firefighter Bob Cummensky was part of the initial strike team battling the impossible to control blaze.
“It’s such a beautiful area and it’s changed forever. This is my best friend’s home,” he said.
In his nearly five decades with the fire service, he’s never seen anything like it.
“It’s a 100-year fire in a 100-year drought,” he said. “It goes against everything I’ve ever learned about fire behavior.”
His grim task now is driving around and finding out which of his friends’ homes are still standing. Many of them will soon face the devastation and the difficult decision of whether to rebuild.
All that’s left standing of Craig Eve’s old home is the chimney. The destruction in Middletown is everywhere you look. All told, the Valley Fire claimed hundreds of homes.
“I think about 20 percent of the town is burned between businesses and homes,” he said.
Everything Eve owns is in his truck, but he says his wife and two kids are safe. In the wake of stunning damage, he’s finding a reason to stay positive. Middletown, he says, will rebuild.
“It’s a new beginning for me it’s a new beginning even though I’ve lost everything, and that’s the way you have to do it; you have to have a positive attitude,” he said. “With that attitude I can’t wait to clear my house and start building again.”
The Valley fire has charred 67,000 acres and is 15 percent contained.