SANTA ROSA (KRON) — Many of the fire victims in the Coffey Park neighborhood are coming home to realize that very little was untouched by the fire.
One of the victims is a World War II veteran and pioneer of the Coffey Park neighborhood who saw his home for the first time on Friday.
Despite losing all his belongings, he’s grateful and has hope for the future.
With his daughter’s help, Jack Miller went home after the fire.
It was all gone.
“It’s tough to look at all this stuff, and it’s all laying here burnt,” Miller said. “It’s hard because it’s a lot of years that I’ve put all this stuff here.”
He moved to Coffey Park in 1952.
He owned 30 acres of land and eventually decided to sell 28 acres that were developed into the Coffey Park neighborhood.
“When you look at that out there, that’s why my wife won’t come,” Miller said. “She don’t want to look. She knows she’ll break.”
When the fire spread through Santa Rosa, Jack and his wife of 72 years were woken up in the middle of the night.
“I went up to the front door,” Miller said. “It was a fireman, and he said, ‘You guys have to get out of here now.’ He said, ‘You go out, your pants on, and pick up your shoes. Don’t try to put them on. Carry them.’”
The firefighter helped them get out and told them not to come back
“We drove from 2:30 in the morning,” Miller said. “We went to towards the coast. We went north. We went south, come back this way 6 hours.”
In the meantime, his daughter worried.
“We figured they were dead in their house, and I just prayed to God that they didn’t wake up and they died in their sleep, instead of trying to get out and they couldn’t get out,” daughter Jacque Cox said. “That was a nightmare not knowing.”
Finally, the couple showed up at their daughter’s house where they were told that their house was likely in ashes.
“It looks like a holocaust or like a bomb went through here, and it’s just it’s like it’s unreal, surreal,” Miller said.
The Millers came home to complete devastation and only reminders of their most prized possessions, like a 16 56 John Deere tractor.
“And all of that is gone,” Cox said. “It can’t be replaced, but you just have to remember it in your mind and that’s what I keep telling my mom. “It’s in your heart and in your mind, and they’re alive, and I still have you.”
Jack says this is harder than World War II.
But if he survived then, he will do so again.
“It’s harder because now I have to start completely all over again, and at 98 years old to start over again, it’s a little hard,” Miller said. “But I’m going to live to be 108. I’m not worried about it.”
— Camila Bernal (@CamilaBernal) October 21, 2017
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