NewsCovering Kern County


Residents return to destroyed home in Porter Ranch

Posted at 9:08 PM, Oct 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-13 00:08:34-04

PORTER RANCH, Calif. — Like many other homes destroyed in the Saddleridge Fire, Robert Reel's family's home was the only one on its street to be lost. High Santa Ana winds on Thursday showering the house in embers, forcing his mom and dad to flee.

“They’re having a tough time, this was the first walk-through, they’re here with the adjuster and just kind of seeing this for the first time," Reel said.

On Saturday, Reel and his parents surveying the damage. Among the items that the family lost are antique furniture, a large music collection, and a recently remodeled kitchen.

“About one year ago, all new cabinets, all new flooring, all-new appliances, all-new everything, just to upgrade everything," Reel said.

Reel says the house was also painted about two months ago. His parents are living with him in Lake Balboa now. The Porter Ranch home will be demolished.

“Structurally it’s not sound enough for us to go up there. The fire department and the insurance adjuster both said do not go upstairs," he said.

Reel’s parents’ house was the only one on their street to burn. The culprit, he says, was a palm tree towering over their backyard.

“It was throwing all kinds of embers all over the house. That’s when my parents left. My dad told me there’s no way the house is going to be saved, the backyard was literally getting on fire," he said.

That palm tree ignited from a canyon behind the house. Neighbor Ryan Withers watching Thursday night as the flames raced forward.

“It was crazy how quick it was going, and before you know it, it's right on your doorstep so it got a little scary," Withers said.

Withers’ house was untouched by the flames. The fire had died down in Porter Ranch as of Saturday afternoon, with evacuations being lifted and residents allowed to return to their homes. Sadly for Reel’s family, all they have are memories.

"There’s all the family parties with the grand kids, now there’s great-grand kids. Everything is done at this house, I mean this is kind of the centerpiece so it’s tough, it’s a hard thing," Reel said.