The Valley Fire is nearly contained, but for the victims, there is still a long struggle ahead. Among them is Charles Stevens, who has lived in Jamul for 30 years. He wasn’t home when the fire ripped through his property, destroying his house, his truck and many irreplaceable items. Once he returned home, Stevens was overtaken with emotion.
“I just started crying. I mean I lost everything. All my pictures, everything. Everything that I ever collected is gone,” said Stevens as he wiped away tears.
Despite his heartache, Stevens is determined to start over.
“I’m needing the county to come out here and get rid of all these burned vehicles that they told me they would so I can start rebuilding,” said Stevens.
Some of the items lost hold a huge sentimental value for Stevens. He was an avid sticker collection and had amassed thousands of them over the years. Stevens is also a NASCAR fan and had a cabinet full of memorabilia of his favorite driver Dale Earnhardt. He also lost pictures of his late girlfriend, Marilyn. She died two years ago, and Stevens still misses her energy and great cooking.
“Now I know what it’s like to be a fire victim,” said Stevens. “I always felt sorry for people before. Now I know what it feels like."
Stevens wants to rebuild, but he did not have fire insurance on his home. He claims his mobile home was too old and providers would not insure it.
Despite his challenges, Stevens gets an extra boost of encouragement from his loyal friend, Maggie, a rescue dog that’s been by his side for years.
“I’d be devastated if I didn’t have her. She’s all I know,” said Stevens.
Stevens’ friends and co-workers have set up a GoFundMe page to help with rebuilding costs.