Kincade wildfires threaten family's new home 2 years after old home burned down originally appeared on abcnews.go.com
The Stauer family lost their home in the Tubbs Fire in Northern California in 2017. Now, the Kincade Fire burning through parts of Sonoma County is threatening the family's new home and, once again, the family has been forced to evacuate, bracing themselves for more loss.
"When we left the last time...we had five minutes," said Nick Stauer, a native of Petaluma. "Power's out, people knock on the door, we got ash hanging down. I've got to wake up two teenagers. … I yell [at] them and, of course, they don't wake up because it's 2:30 in the morning. I yell at them again, they both get out of bed [and I said], 'Grab one thing that's important, we gotta get out of here.'"
Their current home is brand new. Built in the same neighborhood as their previous home, the family only moved in three months ago.
The Kincade Fire started last Wednesday and quickly grew as intense winds fanned the flames. As of Tuesday, the fire had burned over 75,000 acres and destroyed 57 homes. It is only 15% contained and its cause is still under investigation.Stauer said he'll never forget the moment he walked up to his last home in the aftermath of the Tubbs Fire and found only a chimney and foundation left. This time around, the family says it is more prepared.
"I feel safer. I feel [like] they gave us so much warning," said Stephanie Stauer, Nick Stauer's wife. "I feel that everybody really took what happened not only in 2017 but what happened in Paradise in 2018. … They took those learnings and were able to implement them and give us time to get out in a less harried, less frantic way so that I could take out what was most meaningful."
"I hate to say it, [but] we're experienced," Nick Stauer added. "You shouldn't be experienced in something like this. ... We're veterans now."
The couple and their family members — two children as well as Stephanie's brother-in-law and her niece and nephew — are staying at KOA Campground in Petaluma, Nick Stauer said. In all, he said, there are seven people, two dogs and two cats in two cars.
Nick and Stephanie Stauer spoke to ABC News during a return trip to their home. Stephanie Stauer said that they were given a mandatory evacuation but that it was far in advance enough for them to pick up more belongings, such as blankets, dog supplies, water and food. She said they had a lot of mouths to feed and that food was running out at local restaurants.
The family said the fire has made them reconsider living in Sonoma County.
"We were born and raised in Petaluma, and this is the first time as this event is unfolding that we've seriously had the conversation of it might be time to really reconsider leaving here," Stephanie Stauer said.
"As much as I don't want to leave ... I love it. This is our home. .. But I can't do this every two years," she continued. "I went through a stroke at 37, I suffered breast cancer at 40, my house burned down at 47 and, at 49, we're here again."
This time, Stephanie Stauer said her family was more thoughtful with what they chose to pack after losing precious family items in the Tubbs Fire, such as a hand-carved desk made by Nick Stauer's great-grandfather and her grandmother's bible. Still, the family says they are focused and hopeful.
"I'm a glass half-full kind of guy. I don't live in fear. This is going to happen. We know what we have to do," Nick Stauer said. "Let's get out. We'll take what's important. I have my family. I have my wife."
"Our motto has always been Stauers bend, we don't break," Stephanie Stauer added. "We have bent a lot in our 24 years [of marriage]. We've been through a lot of medical issues and natural disasters, but that has been our motto and it continues to be."
ABC News' Will Reeve contributed reporting to this article.