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DailyTidings.com
  • Rising from the ashes

    A year after the Oak Knoll fire, victims reflect on what they lost and their effort to move forward
  • Every morning, Rick Ogier leaves his new house and takes his dogs on a walk through the Oak Knoll neighbor-hood. As he shuts his front door and heads to the street, he passes two stark reminders of what happened at this time last year.
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      Check out interactive photo collages of the rebuilding of the Oak Knoll neighborhood, along with stories, galleries and other coverage from last year's fire until today, all at www.mailtribune.com/...
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      More online
      Check out interactive photo collages of the rebuilding of the Oak Knoll neighborhood, along with stories, galleries and other coverage from last year's fire until today, all at www.mailtribune.com/oakknollfire.

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  • Every morning, Rick Ogier leaves his new house and takes his dogs on a walk through the Oak Knoll neighbor-hood. As he shuts his front door and heads to the street, he passes two stark reminders of what happened at this time last year.
    Flanking Ogier's new Craftsman home are two empty lots where houses once stood.
    Those houses burned to the ground. So did Ogier's old home and eight others in the 800 block of Oak Knoll Drive.
    On Aug. 24, 2010, as the sun turned the grass to straw and a wind whipped against a parched field on Washington Street, a stray spark changed the lives of 11 families forever.
    It was Ashland's worst residential fire in at least a century. In a matter of minutes, the 11 houses turned to ash. All of the residents escaped safely, but when they stopped and caught their breath, they found they hardly recognized the life that had just been saved.
    Almost exactly a year after the tragedy, the victims are reflecting on what it has been like to lose everything and to try to build it back, piece by piece, dollar by dollar, memory by memory.
    "Life's still not the same," Ogier said. "We have a beautiful new home, but grandma's quilt's not on the back of the couch anymore."
    Nine of the families have rebuilt their homes on the same scarred lots. Two, Ogier's next-door neighbors, remain displaced but are planning to begin rebuilding this fall.
    The fire spread from house to house within about 15 minutes, leaving residents no time to evacuate belongings. By about 6 p.m. that day, all that was left were smoldering skeletons of houses: a doorknob here, a cast-iron pan there, a whole lot of ash.
    "We lost everything," said Brian Patterson, who lived with his 11-year-old son next door to Ogier. Patterson rented the house from his parents, and while they have been preparing to rebuild over the past year, he has been staying in an RV on their other property across town. His son stays in Patterson's parents' house.
    "The fire kind of messed up my life," Patterson said. "I've been trying to make it however I can."
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