One hundred and seven days after a devastating fire raced through North Auburn, destroying 63 residences and numerous businesses, the first rebuilt home has passed its final inspection and is ready for habitation. The home on Oak Mist Lane was destroyed by the fast moving fire on Aug. 30, 2009.
“It was a layer of ashes,” said Hector Launier, the owner of the home.
The rebuilding process was a cooperative effort between Launier, local contractor Hawkins Construction, and the Placer County Building Department. In the days immediately after the blaze, Building Department staff assessed all structures damaged or destroyed by the fire. The Launier home was red tagged, meaning it was officially deemed a complete loss. A demolition permit was issued for the premises on Sept. 3, authorizing fire debris removal. After the debris was removed, a building permit was issued on Sept. 14 and the final inspection was completed on Dec 15.
In early September, the County opened emergency permitting centers for those who suffered losses from the fire. To speed the approval effort, inspections for the various phases of construction were given priority and staff was dedicated to this process. In addition, the Building Department shortened permit issuance and plan review. Staff was also made more available for construction inspections. The rebuilds of the fire damaged properties were rotated into the front of plan review, with dedicated staff assigned to expedite the review process.
“We’ve done everything we can to keep the process of rebuilding moving smoothly for the victims of the 49 Fire,” said Tim Wegner, Building Department Chief. “We’re pleased that we’ve been able to assist the victims of this fire and get them on their way to being back in their homes.”
“The final sign off of the reconstruction of the Launier home less than three and a half months after the 49 Fire is the best Christmas present any of us could have. I can only imagine the joy it brings to the homeowners,” said Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, whose 5th District encompasses the burn area. “My best wishes go out to the Launiers and I look forward to celebrating 62 more final signoffs in the near future!”
While the Launier home is all but finished, other homes in the neighborhood are in various states of construction. The North Auburn area where the fire occurred is a flurry of activity as contractors rebuild the many homes destroyed by the fire.
“Everyone at CDRA [Placer County Community Development Resources Agency] cut through the red tape to get these folks going,” said Dusty Hawkins of Hawkins Construction, the family owned and operated, third-generation Auburn construction company that rebuilt the house. “Placer County stepped up.”
“Dusty [Hawkins] made a promise to me to be done by Christmas,” said Launier, who had lived in the home for 20 years. “I didn’t believe him, but when I saw the way things were going, I changed my mind.”
Launier, who has been living in a rental home during construction, said he will move back into the new home the week after Christmas. He is having furniture delivered and will transfer other belongings after the holiday. “I’m kind of used to the area, said Launier, “although, it looks different without the trees.”