Family visits home for the first time since Almeda Fire

TALENT, Ore. – People are mourning the loss of homes to the Almeda Fire.

While everyone has their own unique story, Talent homeowners are just now seeing their burnt home for the first time.

“It seems like a horrible nightmare I’m waiting to wake up from,” said Veronica Villalovos.

Villalovos and her mother Liza Himtzman live in the Bay Area full time but have a home in Talent. They watched the Almeda Fire live on Facebook as it took over Talent and Phoenix.

“Watching the fire burn live was the hardest thing to do. We felt so helpless, like everybody we felt unprepared, we couldn’t do anything until just now,” said Villalovos.

Tuesday was the first day they saw the house in person.

“It’s just a lot to take in to see it the way it is right now,” said Himtzman who was planning on retiring in Talent.

“This was our dream retirement home. I brought furniture from his [my husband’s] parents so they were antique stuff that can’t get replaced. And all that furniture is gone. Every time we came here we worked on the house as a family project,” said Himtzman.

As they went through the debris they found not all was lost.

“We did find something my great-grandma gave me before she passed. It was these little fish decorations,” said Villalovos showing two ceramic fishes, “Honestly, out of everything in her house, this is the one thing I wanted”.

Some may call it fate, Villanova’s is taking it as a sign that better days are ahead

“It gave me hope that it’s gonna work out, it sucks right now. It’s gonna be a long process and we’re gonna get through it,” said Villanova.

The mother-daughter duo said they are taking it one day at a time. Before they went to their house they told NBC5 they donated to El Tapatio for victims who lost everything.

NBC5 News reporter Katie Streit comes from her hometown, Las Vegas. Katie went to the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, Katie won a Student Emmy for her coverage of the Las Vegas Shooting Anniversary. She also hosted and produced the university's political news show, where she interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1). Her passion for politics turned into a coveted internship at the US Capitol in Washington D.C. In her final months working in the Las Vegas area, she was recognized for her journalism achievements by the Nevada Broadcaster's Foundation. Katie is excited to tell the stories of local Southern Oregonians and Northern Californians. Feel free to contact her at [email protected]
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