Coffey Park Santa Rosa Tubbs Fire Christmas Trees
California residents decorate their burned homes
00:46 - Source: CNN

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The Tubbs fire destroyed 1,300 homes in the Coffey Park subdivision

Residents are now decorating their lots for Christmas

CNN  — 

There’s nothing left of the house where Margaret Curzon grew up.

The Tubbs Fire reduced her parents’ home to rubble and destroyed their entire neighborhood in October, as it ravaged the Northern California wine country. Then workers scraped the site clean.

But now there is a Christmas tree.

It’s a small tree, decorated with pine cones and a printed sign that says “Merry Christmas! Love the Curzons,” in red and green letters, along with the phrase “Coffey Park Strong.”

Curzon decided to put up the tree on Tuesday to “maintain a sense of normalcy.” She also hung stockings, a wreath, and other decorations on the caution tape around the property.

Her neighbors also have been decorating the lots where their homes once stood with Christmas trees, battery-operated lights and other holiday trimmings.

The wildfires destroyed an estimated 8,900 structures – including 1,300 in the Santa Rosa neighborhood of Coffey Park – and took the lives of 43 people, according to Cal Fire.

Before and after photos show devastation

“My family loves the holiday season and Christmas and I wasn’t going to let the fire ruin that,” she said.

Her parents, Ed and Karen Curzon, were asleep when the fire reached their neighborhood and only had 5 or 10 minutes to grab their two dogs and anything else they could before fleeing in their car.

Stores of survival from California wildfires

When they returned home, all that was left was rubble and a concrete statue of the Virgin Mary.

Their contractor is scheduled to break ground on their new home in the spring and Curzon hopes her family will be able to move back in by next Christmas.

“That’s wishful thinking,” she said – but that’s what the holidays are all about.

‘We love our community’

Samantha Eggert and her husband also plan to rebuild.

They’ve lived in their Coffey Park home for almost eight years. It was the first home they bought after they married. They’re renting a place about 20 minutes away, for now, but decided they would decorate their home site instead.

“We decided that the only place we wanted a tree was on our property,” Eggert said.

They put up their tree in early December and Eggert says they found a present underneath it a few days later.

Eggert has been collecting Hot Wheels cars for 20 years and lost thousands of toy vehicles in the fire. She’s working with her insurance company to replace what they’ve lost, but many of the cars are rare or difficult to find.

A neighbor, who also lost his home, left her a set with some hot rods and a car hauler to help her start rebuilding her prized collection.

She said she has great neighbors and loves her community.

“Seeing all the Christmas trees and lights going up really gives us hope,” she said.