LA CONCHITA (CBSLA) — It’s the inevitable moment no one wants to live through — heading back to the ashes where your house once stood.
For Ventura County homeowners Dana Joyce and Vanessa Zeigert-Joyce, the pain was compounded Thursday by having to show their four children what was left of their home.
“It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve done, ever, but I needed to see it,” Dana told CBS2 News. “I needed to know what was gonna happen, and I feel like they needed the same thing.”
Theirs was one of the some 200 houses lost in the massive Thomas Fire crews have been battling since early Monday morning. The blaze has scorched 115,000 acres so far and was only 5 percent contained Thursday night.
The couple has two daughters, Chloe, 13, and Zoe, 12. Their two boys are just toddlers and might not fully understand the situation, but as they approached what remained of their house, one of them incredulously uttered, “My home.”
Chloe said the thing that hurt her the most was losing her little brother’s “stuff, both of theirs.”
“That’s where they’ve been growing up,” she told CBS2, tears streaming down her face. “This is their first home, so it’s hard.”
The family escaped the flames just in time, about 20 minutes before the fire reached their home in the small community of La Conchita in Ventura County.
Vanessa and Dana adopted their four children with the dreams of raising their children there.
“It was our life,” said Vanessa. “It was things that we bought together as a family. I mean, you can’t put a value on that, and you can’t replace it.”
As the day wore on, the children did find some toys among the remnants — a big teddy bear, parts of a toy train — and maybe found a little of something else, too.
“I was happy I found those. It’s hope” said Chloe.
Seemingly unphased, when the older boy was asked if everything would be OK, he said, simply, “Yeah.”
A childhood friend of Vanessa from back home in Australia started a GoFundMe campaign for the family. Thursday night, they had reached more than $14,000 of their $15,000 goal.