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3 years later, Tubbs Fire survivors seek justice after contractors allegedly fail to rebuild homes

It has been three long years since Sonoma County’s Tubbs Fire nightmare.

3 years later, Tubbs Fire survivors seek justice in alleged home rebuild fraud

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It feels like yesterday to those who survived.

For a crowd gathered with signs outside the Sonoma County courthouse Friday morning, it feels more like an eternity.

“I’m still not over it. PTSD for three years, now,” said Ellen Lencher.

She and others in the crowd lost homes in the fire and money, they say, to Sal and Pam Chiaramonte.

RELATED: Santa Rosa contractor Chiaramonte Construction responds to complaints about rebuilds of homes destroyed in Tubbs Fire

The contractors from Tulare County promised to rebuild 39 houses at Central Valley prices. They did not deliver on most of them.

“And even after the time the realized they would not be able to do what they promised, they continued to take money from people,” said attorney Richard Freeman, who represents many of the victims in a civil suit.

Friday’s scheduled court appearance provided the first time that many of the Chiaramonte’s customers had seen the couple since signing their papers.

The contractors answered no questions.

“No we are not allowed to say anything,” said Sal Chiaramonte, though he and his wife did hear an earful.

VIDEO: ‘Two years stronger together:’ Tubbs Fire survivors reflect on firestorm anniversary

“Scumbag. You’re not even man enough to look at us,” shouted one man in the crowd.

“We’re not going away,” added another.

Elsewhere, the Santa Rosa Fire Department rang a ceremonial bell 24 times in honor of 24 lives lost that night.

More than 5,000 homes burned. Almost a quarter of them were in Coffey Park, where the Chiaramontes set up shop, as Pam told us in the spring in 2019.

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3 years later, Sonoma County Tubbs Fire survivors seek justice after contractors allegedly fail to deliver on promise to rebuild homes

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) — It has been three long years since Sonoma County’s Tubbs Fire nightmare.

It feels like yesterday to those who survived.

For a crowd gathered with signs outside the Sonoma County courthouse Friday morning, it feels more like an eternity.

“I’m still not over it. PTSD for three years, now,” said Ellen Lencher.

She and others in the crowd lost homes in the fire and money, they say, to Sal and Pam Chiaramonte.

RELATED: Santa Rosa contractor Chiaramonte Construction responds to complaints about rebuilds of homes destroyed in Tubbs Fire

The contractors from Tulare County promised to rebuild 39 houses at Central Valley prices. They did not deliver on most of them.

“And even after the time the realized they would not be able to do what they promised, they continued to take money from people,” said attorney Richard Freeman, who represents many of the victims in a civil suit.

Friday’s scheduled court appearance provided the first time that many of the Chiaramonte’s customers had seen the couple since signing their papers.

The contractors answered no questions.

“No we are not allowed to say anything,” said Sal Chiaramonte, though he and his wife did hear an earful.

VIDEO: ‘Two years stronger together:’ Tubbs Fire survivors reflect on firestorm anniversary

“Scumbag. You’re not even man enough to look at us,” shouted one man in the crowd.

“We’re not going away,” added another.

Elsewhere, the Santa Rosa Fire Department rang a ceremonial bell 24 times in honor of 24 lives lost that night.

More than 5,000 homes burned. Almost a quarter of them were in Coffey Park, where the Chiaramontes set up shop, as Pam told us in the spring in 2019.

RELATED: Tubbs Fire victims say contractor is not making good on their rebuilds

“We’re not some

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Urban wildfire: When homes are the fuel for a runaway blaze, how do you rebuild a safer community?

TALENT, Oregon — Late morning on Sept. 8, forest scientist Dominick DellaSala sat at the desk in his home office to do a final edit on a newspaper opinion piece. The topic: The need to better prepare for catastrophic wildfires — or “black swan events” — that can rampage through neighborhoods.

His computer screen went dark. The power had gone out.

He went outside to investigate the outage. Looking south, he spotted a dense cloud of smoke.

“This was totally black. It was huge. And it was heading in our direction,” DellaSala recalls.

DellaSala spent the next few hours up on his roof, cleaning out gutters and hosing down the asphalt shingles before evacuating. His home was spared as the fire veered away from his street, but more than 2,800 structures and three people were killed in one of the most destructive wildfires in Northwest history.

Forest scientist Dominick DellaSala surveys the field near  a dog park that was the ignition point for the Almeda Fire, one of the most destructive in Oregon’s history. (Hal Bernton / The Seattle Times)
Forest scientist Dominick DellaSala surveys the field near a dog park that was the ignition point for the Almeda Fire, one of the most destructive in Oregon’s history. (Hal Bernton / The Seattle Times)

This one had nothing to do the management of thickly forested Northwest mountain slopes. It started in a patch of grass by a dog park in the north end of Ashland on a hot day with fierce, dry winds. The fire raced through a county greenway park, chewed through roadside brush and jumped into the heart of two communities — Talent and Phoenix, with a combined population of more than 10,000. Then houses, trailers and commercial buildings became the fuel that fed its relentless advance.

In the immediate aftermath of the historic early September fires, people here and in other ravaged Pacific Northwest towns such as Malden, in Eastern Washington, are primarily focused on the need to find short-term shelter

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Thomas Fire rebuild in Ventura will split lot into five parcels

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Six months after the Thomas Fire raged through Ventura County, we take an aerial view of several burn areas near Ventura.

Ventura County Star

On December 26, 2016, the Cairns family moved from their longtime home on Lynnbrook Avenue in Ventura to a nearby home on Foothill Road. The homes were so close that Nancy Cairns could see their old home from their new home. 

The new home was zoned for horses, which was a longtime dream for Cairns. 

“I’d been keeping an eye on the property for a couple of years when it came on the market, and I’d always wanted to bring my horses onto the property,” said Cairns. “I wanted to live my dream, and that was my dream property to be able to have horses and that ranch feel in the town that I love.”

But the home burned down in the Thomas Fire on Dec. 5, 2017, less than a year after they bought it. After evacuating to a friend’s house, Chris and Nancy Cairns watched their home burn down on the news.

Nearly three years after the fire, the family got closer to rebuilding this monthafter the Ventura City Council approved a zone change on Sept. 14 that will allow five single-family homes on their 1.54 acre property. 

The approved plans will divide the lot into four parcels ranging in size from a quarter-acre to roughly one-third of an acre, with a fifth 0.39-acre remainder lot set aside for the Cairns’ new home.

The Thomas Fire burned down over 500 homes in the city of Ventura. But the Cairns project is the only rebuild in the city that includes a subdivision.

The Cairns family’s home in Ventura was destroyed in the Thomas Fire on December 5, 2017. They had bought the home

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