To rebuild or not?
10 Images

To rebuild or not?

To rebuild or not?
Survivors of the devastating 2003 Cedar fire get a view from the balcony of Scott and Abby Anders’ rebuilt home off Muth Valley Road in Lakeside, Calif. The informal Cedar fire survivors group recently toured rebuilt homes and also is helping the victims of October’s Witch fire in northeastern San Diego County through the traumatic experience of rebuilding. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
To rebuild or not?
Survivors of the 2003 Cedar fire tour the partially rebuilt home of Kathy and Valentine “Val” Lance off Lake Vicente Drive in Lakeside, Calif. Lance, a retired British biologist, recounted how four of his neighbors died trying to flee the fire, including a man stranded in a recreational vehicle with his Irish wolfhounds. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
To rebuild or not?
Cedar fire group member Billi-Jo Swanson, left, hugs fellow group member Ingrid Coffin of Blue Sky Ranch, Calif., during a tour of newly rebuilt homes. The informal group has its own rules for judging when someone is finished with “the rebuild.” Only after San Diego County building inspectors issue their final approval does the group celebrate. They even have a term for it: “getting final.” (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
To rebuild or not?
A Cedar fire survivor group member enters the partially rebuilt home of Kathy and Valentine “Val” Lance off Lake Vicente Drive in Lakeside, Calif. Five years ago, the informal group met as shell-shocked strangers, burned out by the state’s worst wildfire in 75 years. Some didn’t have insurance, or discovered soon after the fire that they were underinsured. They couldn’t afford to rebuild. Others weren’t sure they wanted to. Together, they found their way. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
To rebuild or not?
David Kassel talks on his cellphone to a Cedar fire survivor while giving a tour of his rebuilt home in Lakeside, Calif. Kassel, 53, branch manager for a gate company, heads an informal group of survivors who lost their homes in the 2003 fire. To help the latest fire survivors, he drove to Ramona to organize a new group — and give them hope. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
To rebuild or not?
David Kassel mounted the melted remains of his son’s jet ski on the wall of his first-floor office as a reminder of the Cedar fire five years ago. Above it is a photo of a dog that survived the blaze. Kassel received family photos from relatives to replace those lost in the fire. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
To rebuild or not?
Cedar fire survivor Jim Robinson, right, admires the architecture and openness of fellow survivor David Kassel’s newly rebuilt home. Robinson, a retired Caltrans surveyor, also lost his home five years ago, but says he has lacked the inspiration to rebuild. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
To rebuild or not?
Jim Robinson holds a photo of his Lakeside, Calif., home that was destroyed in the Cedar fire in 2003. He wears bracelets fashioned from warped copper wires that he cut from the ruins of the modest ranch house, built in 1959 and bought in 1980. Robinson, 66, has received his insurance settlement, but says he often feels too old to handle such a big project, even with the support of the Cedar fire group. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
To rebuild or not?
Jim Robinson, with his pet goat at the site of his former home destroyed five years ago, has not yet decided to rebuild. He stays at his late mother’s home in Springdale, Calif., and drives over to the site of his burned-out, one-bedroom ranch house in Lakeside twice weekly to water the gardens and clear the slab. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
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