All the evacuation orders for the Camp Fire finally lifted in Paradise over the weekend, and many people drove back in to assess their burned homes. But the fire did spare the occasional house, which is hard for the owners in a different way.
Steve and Kari Eurotas, ages 64 and 60, have the lone house standing in their immediate neighborhood on the south end of Paradise. Their nearly 3,000-square-foot home — with a vaulted ceiling, wood-burning stove and deck — sits on a 3-acre lot overlooking a valley of trees.
“We just do not understand how our house is still here,” says Steve, shaking his head, eyes watering.
Walking inside their home, which has been empty for over a month, everything looks perfect, except for the strong smell. It smells burned, rotted, and has a hint of chemicals.
"There's no water, no power, no gas,” says Kari.
The home is a time capsule to Nov. 8, when the Camp Fire forced them to evacuate.
“Everything is the way it was when we left. There's a dried-up bowl of oatmeal,” says Kari. “It's cream of wheat with raspberries,” Steve says, remembering his last breakfast there. Their bed is unmade, covers turned back, like someone had just woken up.
It's bizarre, but the smell is about the only thing wrong with the home. While almost everything around them lies in ruins. Kari says she has mixed feelings about it.
"I'm not super-excited that it's standing. But, I just think; I’m going to start crying,” Kari says, her voice breaking. “It limits our choices. Most of our friends are leaving and not rebuilding.” Her mother lost her house, as did many people they knew.