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Man loses everything in fire near Forestville

  • A resident walks through the fire area as Cal Fire firefighters and the Russian River Fire district douse hot spots on a large structure fire that threatened several homes in Forestville's Summerhome Park community, Monday Sept. 1, 2014. (KENT PORTER/ PD)

While lifelong Summerhome Park resident Jim Fay lies in a hospital bed suffering from burns, his friends in the Russian River community have started a fundraising drive for the man who lost everything in a fire Monday that destroyed his home and threatened the neighborhood.

“His grandfather built that cabin. He’s been a member of this community his entire life. He has lost every single last thing,” said Lisa Christensen, a longtime friend.

Summerhome Park is a private community west of Forestville that stretches from the beaches of the Russian River into the redwood-studded canyons above and is a vacation spot for numerous families who’ve owned property there for generations.

Forestville Fire

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Fire officials Tuesday were at the Laurel Avenue scene, combing through the charred remnants for signs of what sparked the fire at the back of Fay’s cabin.

While they could tell it started in the upstairs living room of the split-level residence, what caused it couldn’t be determined as any evidence was destroyed, said Michael Franceschi, Forestville fire investigator. The cause remained under investigation, however, as a few more people needed to be interviewed.

Fay suffered burns and smoke inhalation. He was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and then transferred to another facility, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Christensen, his friend, said Fay now is at St. Francis Burn Center in San Francisco and was expected to be there at least a week.

Fire officials initially said the man was burned after he ran into his burning garage to try and save a vehicle. But Christensen said she understood he was burned while trying to dampen a neighbor’s deck, which is right in line with his role in the close-knit community.

“He does everything for everybody. He lives very simply. He’s just a good guy. He’s lost everything, and we want to try to help him,” Christensen said.

They set up a GoFundMe.com account called Help Jim Fay, Christensen said. The donation page can be found at gofundme.com/dwj7ts. By Tuesday night, it had raised more than $8,300 toward a $15,000 goal.


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