Environment & Science

Resident who lost her home returns to Sand Canyon: 'It looks like hell'

Christina Pease surveys what's left of her home in Sand Canyon. She and her husband had lived there for 17 years. The Sand Fire devoured it on Saturday.
Christina Pease surveys what's left of her home in Sand Canyon. She and her husband had lived there for 17 years. The Sand Fire devoured it on Saturday.
Rebecca Plevin/ KPCC

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Christina Pease surveys what's left of her home, deep inside Sand Canyon. She and her husband had lived there for 17 years. The Sand Fire devoured it on Saturday.

Piles of ash lie where her kitchen should have been. Household appliances are burnt to a crisp.

Pease struggles to describe what she sees.

"It looks like a bomb went off," she says. "It looks like hell. Armageddon. I don't know. The apocalypse. It's beyond words. I have no words to describe it."

Pease says she and her husband knew fire danger was high this year. She says they'd done the best they could to prepare for it.

"We did the best clearing this year because of the drought and how dry it's been," she says. "Even the fire department came by and said, 'best you've ever done — this really looks great.'"

She now knows that nothing could have stopped this fire.

Christina Pease surveys what's left of her home in Sand Canyon. She and her husband had lived there for 17 years. The Sand Fire devoured it on Saturday.
Christina Pease surveys what's left of her home in Sand Canyon. She and her husband had lived there for 17 years. The Sand Fire devoured it on Saturday.
Rebecca Plevin/ KPCC

Pease's cheeks are bright red in the 100-degree heat; they match the empty Solo cup she's carrying. She recalls what happened on Saturday, before she lost everything.

"An hour before, the wind was going that way and there was not a leaf moving on a tree," she says. "And then, boom."

Before she knew it, she says, the wind had picked up and flames were engulfing the hills that surround her home.

"The flames were leaping up so high," she says. "It looked like hell."

As the fire approached, she tried to save her animals. She got her three big dogs in the car. But she left behind her birds, goats, and her old horse, Abby.

Officials did eventually find her horse; they told Pease the horse had no broken bones was not burned, but she was very stressed and couldn't stand up. She told them to put the horse down.

The Sand Fire continues to roar behind the remains of the home that belonged to Christina Pease.
The Sand Fire continues to roar behind the remains of the home that belonged to Christina Pease.
Rebecca Plevin / KPCC

She says she cried hysterically when she returned to her property this morning. A couple hours later, she's still in shock, but she's able to think a little more clearly about whether she and her husband will move back to a fire-prone area like Sand Canyon.

"I loved it here," she says. "I loved this canyon. It was so quiet. The stars were beautiful."

But, she adds, "Rebuild? Everyone's asking me that. I don't know. I don't know."

She knows what they have to do next: Go to the bank. They're staying with a friend, so they need to buy groceries. Take it one step at a time.

Christina and Drew Pease are accepting donations through this GoFundMe page.