Family Working To Clean Up Property Destroyed By Wildfire

1 Week After A Wildfire Destroys A Family Property, Cleanup Begins

It's been one week since the Sand Fire burned more than 1,400 acres near Tehachapi.

Lost in that fire was a home and the iconic boat, S.S. Minnow, parked along the side of Highway 58.

The home ruined in the fire has been in the Popejoy family for more than 45 years. While they didn't live there full time, they say it's a lifetime of memories that's been completely destroyed.

"It's like we are doing a funeral, and we are closing the casket," said Elizabeth Popejoy, whose grandparents bought the property in 1965.

On Tuesday, hot spots were still smoldering, and the smell of scorched earth lingered in the air.

The Popejoys are still trying to come to terms with the loss.

"I have problems at night," said Dan Popejoy. "I wake up and remember how things were, how it used to look. It was never pretty, but it was ours."

After Dan Popejoy's parents passed away, the property stayed just as they had left it. He said he stopped by every now and then just to check on it.

"It was my quiet spot," said Popejoy. "(There was) no outside interference, usually. (It was) just me and the animals."

It's that feeling of peace that members of the Tehachapi community are trying to give back to the Popejoys.

"We love Tehachapi," said someone going by the name of Sparks, who is organizing help for the family. "We love our landmarks. We love our people. This fire devastated us. It did."

A bank account has been opened, and collection jars will be placed around town with the end goal of restoring the property and the S.S Minnow.

While most of the items can be replaced, the Popejoys said the fire took the one thing that can't be.

"There's a lot of history," said Elizabeth Popejoy. "You know, it was us. It wasn't much, but it was us."

You can donate at the Bank Of Sierra to the Danny Popejoy - Almost Home" Home fund.

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