Los Angeles

Neighbors Begin Picking Up Pieces in Wake of Sand Fire

Lance Rodrigue surveys what was once his 11-bedroom ranch off of Sand Canyon Road.

It's all ashes now — one of the properties lost in the devastating Sand Fire.

Luckily, Rodrigue had fire insurance for his 6,000-square-foot property.

"I've never gone through an insurance claim of this size," he said.

Rodrigue is anticipating hiccups, since his policy only covers about a third of his home's worth.

"Whenever you go and the whole place is burned down, that's pretty much as bad as it gets," said Tyler Pace, an insurance claims adjuster who was taking an inventory Friday of what's missing on Rodrigue's property.

One of the biggest challenges is getting a true floor plan, since many of the 18 homes burned to the ground. Adjusters are left to pull images from Google Earth.

"Luckily, he has photographs of before this happened," Pace said. "That's a big help."

When the fire got close Saturday, Rodrigue went through every bedroom, recording video of what he had. It will be documented, but even with the green light, Rodrigue has no plans to start rebuilding right away.

He said he will "wait for Mother Nature to come and wash this place clean and see which way the mud is going to flow. That will tell me where I can build and be safe."

Without insurance, the challenge to rebuild is even greater. At the local high school, the Red Cross was set up Friday helping at least eight displaced families.

"Everyone has a recovery plan before they leave this shelter," said Cindy Huge with the Red Cross. "Whether that will be go back to their home or go back to a temporary type of living."

In the meantime, Rodrigue cherishes the one item no insurance company could replace: an album with photos of his father, circa 1945.

A state of emergency was declared by the governor's office Tuesday. But the Sand Fire, which had burned nearly 40,000 acres as of Friday, has not be declared a federal fire, which means residents cannot apply for assistance from FEMA.

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