From Rebuilding Engines to Rebuilding Their Lives: After the Campfire

When Dan and Marge lost their home in the Campfire in Paradise, California in 2018, they barely escaped with their lives. When they got the phone call from their daughter that Paradise was burning, they were in their car within 10 minutes, and trees on their street were already beginning to burn. 

They fled in their car at a snail’s pace, watching the fire all around them. They had no time to get any of their belongings. When they left, there was no doubt that their home of more than two decades, along with all of the mementos, belongings, and other nearby rental properties, would be reduced to ashes when they returned. His tools, his classic truck, and his spare car parts, all burned. The house, the garage, everything but the chimney, burned to the ground. Puddles of melted metal lay on the ground, surrounded by ashes and burned-out remnants of old vehicles he worked on over the years. 

Their daughter, understanding the gravity of the situation, was already preparing a room for her parents in her home, knowing they would lose everything. They moved “down the hill” to Chico, California, where they lived with their daughter while they figured out what their next steps would be. Together, they bought two homes – located next door to each other and just blocks from Bidwell Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the nation. 

Dan’s garage has always been his space, the place where you go to do the things you love. Dan, now in his 70s, says his garage is where you are surrounded by the things that bring joy and peace. 

“It’s the place where you can get away, do the things you love,” he said. “The garage is reliable; it’s always there. It doesn’t let you down.”

 The garage is a place that reminds him of the decades he spent restoring cars, and rebuilding engines – “tinkering.” He is surrounded by tools he has gotten to replace those he lost, as well as a few salvaged from the fire. Dan and Marge have gone from rebuilding engines to rebuilding their lives. 

Now five years after the fire, they sold their property in Paradise this summer, and have another on the market. They are making their current home their forever home, and spend a great deal of time in their garage – now a second living room of sorts. They have tables and chairs – a conversation pit, where they spend time talking and visiting with loved ones, while they look out into the neighborhood from the open large garage door – their view into the world outside. 

Their neighbor, a six-year-old girl, stops by every day on her way home from school where she gets her pick of all the treats Marge has put in jars for her. Both of their faces light up in that garage, the younger looking at all the treats, and the older, looking at the girl as the girl makes her pick and talks about her day. 

The time they spend in the garage these days looks different than in the past, but the garage is still a place for joy and peace. Because they spend time there, Dan and Marge were looking to upgrade the garage flooring. They wanted to cover the cracks and the uneven coloring in the concrete while making sure the surface was not slippery so they wouldn’t fall on their way back into the house. They covered the garage floor with Your Garage Pro’s roll-out flooring, a simple project that can be done in a few hours with a large impact on the look of the garage.

 “People that come by notice the change and ask about it. It looks amazing,” Marge said once the job was complete. “I couldn’t be happier.”

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