Benefit to help 49 Fire victims

Sunday’s event to feature bands, food and tributes
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Benefit in the Park When: noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20 Where: Regional Park, Richardson Drive, North Auburn What: Six bands, food, tributes to 49 Fire recovery efforts --------------- In the wake of Auburn’s most catastrophic blaze ever, one thing’s a daunting given. It’s going to take a lot of money to restore the lives of the many victims of the 49 Fire. When wind whipped flames through a section of North Auburn that included homes and businesses, it left tens of millions of dollars of destruction in its wake. Benefit in the Park on Sunday will help make up some of those lost dollars and help rebuild lives through the newly established Auburn Disaster Relief Fund. On the basis of replacement value alone, 63 homes valued at an average of $350,000 adds up to more than $22 million. Add the losses of three businesses, lost possessions and damage to everything from landscaping to fencing – and the price tag soars. Insurance won’t pay for everything. And many residents who rented didn’t have insurance. At what many locals now call Ground Zero – the residential Parkway Drive neighborhood off Dry Creek Road where most of the 63 homes were destroyed in the Aug. 30 fire – retired teacher Dietrich Tieseler returned Thursday and surveyed the charred remains of his home for the past 15 years. Tieseler talked of the old Mercedes Benz he kept running as a hobby that was now destroyed. There were many loving additions to his home, like Anderson windows and a solar power system. He mourned what was once an expansive, neatly trimmed lawn he had maintained until fire swept through the subdivision. “We’re fortunate enough to have friends who are taking care of us,” Tieseler said. “But we don’t know if insurance will pay for everything. It’s best to rebuild but we don’t know if we will stay or go on.” Businesses, organizations and individuals have joined together for Sunday’s Benefit in the Park at North Auburn’s Regional Park. Scott Holbrook, an Auburn Recreation District director and volunteer on the massive undertaking, said the event is not only a fund-raiser but also a stress reliever for the community. Holbrook said that he’s expecting several thousand people to come to the event through the course of Sunday afternoon and into the evening. Nearly everything – from band time to food preparation to portable toilets – is being provided at no cost. That means donations and money from food sales will go directly to the fund and into the hands of fire victims, he pointed out. “My goal is $50,000 and I think it’s a realistic goal,” Holbrook said. The new fire fund will be administered by a board of both elected officials and business leaders to help victims today and six months from now, said Steve Galyardt, Community 1st Bank vice president-manager. The fund is also intended to be there again if disaster strikes, he added. Jeff Gibson, an Auburn contractor, was working at Ground Zero on Thursday amid the hubbub of heavy equipment removing the debris that once made 63 houses homes for dozens of families. Gibson, who lives nearby, said he initially avoided the area because he felt that he would be preying on the bad luck of others. But he was eventually asked in and is now helping work with eight families. He’s seen the tragedy and sorrow. “It was traumatic,” Gibson said. “One lady was particularly traumatized.” But like a community that is rallying around fire victims at events like Sunday’s, Gibson is doing what he can. “I dropped my price,” he said. “If it helps them afford a couch then I’ll be happy.” The musical lineup – six bands on one stage from noon into the evening – includes one group that personally know how fire can change lives. Gary and Vicki Campbell of the Stardust Cowboys lost their Foresthill-area home to fire three years ago. “We’re still trying to get the house rebuilt and have a huge passion for what these folks in Auburn are going through – and what’s in front of them,” Vicki Campbell said. “Just because you have insurance doesn’t mean it comes easy. It’s a struggle every step.” Campbell said the benefit should help ease the struggles people are in for as they try to rebuild their houses and their lives. “It sure does take the support of family, friends and community to keep trudging through the aftermath and get back home,” she said. ------------------------------------------- 7 Reasons to go to Sunday’s Benefit in the Park for 49 Fire victims 1. The Music. Six acts will have something for everyone and they’re all family-friendly. Bands are the Stardust Cowboys, Who Dunnit, Strictly for Kicks, Mind X Trio, Halie O’Ryan and band, and Eclipse. 2. The Food. Several local service clubs will be grilling and serving everything from tri-tip to burgers to shaved ice. 3. The Kid Factor. A large kid’s zone will provide a bounce house, climbing wall and other activities. 4. The Good Feelings. The event is free but benefit goers will know their donation and food purchases will go directly to 49 Fire victims. 5. The Park. The amphitheater is a great place to plunk down a chair or blanket. People can also take a break from the music to stretch their legs and explore. 6. The Chance to Be On TV. At least one Sacramento news crew will be on hand to film a news segment and who knows? Have your 20-second sound bite ready. News10 anchor Kelly Jackson will also be there as an emcee. 7. The Weather. Sunny Sunday with a high of 94 degrees. ~ Gus Thomson