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Smith: Santa Rosa contractor builds tiny homes for Sonoma County fire victims

Charlie and Andrea McEvoy are building a tiny house they plan to give to a fire victim. (Chris Smith/The Press Democrat)

CHRIS SMITH,

For a while after the fires took their harrowing toll, Cardinal Newman High alum (Class of ‘05) Charlie McEvoy did what he suspects many of us were doing: “sitting around feeling hopeless.”

His wife, Andrea, suggested there must be something they could do to comfort and assist at least one or two or a few people who lost their homes and have no insurance and few prospects for decent shelter.

The McEvoys run a small construction company. They decided they could build something: a tiny house or two.

Only about two weeks later, a dandy of a habitation on wheels is nearing completion alongside Charlie and Andrea’s country home west of Santa Rosa.

It’s 19 feet long, eight feet wide and when completed will feature a kitchen, a bathroom, a floor-level sleeping space and a loft big enough for a queen bed.

The McEvoys and friends in the building trades kicked in the labor and much of the materials. Donors to a crowdfunding appeal on GoFundMe have so far added nearly $11,000.

Charlie, who’s 30, said he has pretty much all he needs to complete the first tiny house, and that he and his friends and sub-contractors would like to build a second.

Andrea said they’ll offer the teeny houses to individuals or small families that were left homeless by the fires, had no insurance and are in great need of a place to live.

The recipients might stay in the tiny houses forever. Or maybe, said Andrea, the casitas will provide a safe haven until those occupying them figure out their next step.

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WATER TRUCKS owned and operated by private citizens are to thank for saving an unknown number of homes that firefighters couldn’t get to.

Residents of seriously threatened homes on or near Baird Road, off Calistoga Road, watched or heard about Dan Dortch of Sunshine Construction and his employee, Scott Shaw, making trip after trip and dousing flames with a hose and the truck-side nozzle.

Dortch first took his truck to his family’s Rincon Valley home to protect it. Seeing that it would be OK, he set out for homes in the path of flames.

“I think we saved between three and five houses,” he said. “It makes you feel good.”

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AN ENTIRE FLEET of nine water tankers was sent into the streets of Santa Rosa and Sonoma Valley, voluntarily, in the heat of battle, by NorthWest General Engineering.

About 16 NorthWest Engineering employees worked long hours refilling fire trucks and attacking the flames that threatened homes.

Maybe you saw, on KPIX-TV, Bill Hobro praising a water-truck crew for working with him for six hours to halt the flames that on Oct. 9 advanced on his Lomita Heights neighborhood, off Chanate Road.

That tanker and crew were from NorthWest. The company’s Jason Holtzinger said none of the drivers who took water trucks into Glen Ellen, Bennett Ridge, Coffey Park and elsewhere sought recognition, they just wanted to help.

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WHAT IS THIS, Cy Wilcox thought upon spying a piece of unburned paper beneath a torched bush in ravaged Fountaingrove.

It was a drawing of the person who shrieks, with palms to cheeks, in artist Edvard Munch’s famed, “The Scream.”

Says Wilcox, “It sums up my feelings entirely.

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.