It was a year ago today that the Sawtooth Fire in the High Desert sparked up. What started as a dry lightning-sparked fire soon turned into tragedy for several residents as they saw their homes go up in flames.
In the end, the Sawtooth Fire burned over 62,000 acres for nine days, destroyed 58 homes, and killed one person.
Of the towns affected by the fire, Pioneertown seemed to be the hardest hit. Some residents not only lost their homes but they also lost everything they had.
It’s something that Frank Zambruno doesn’t want to look back to. Right now, Zambruno is working on rebuilding his house. A wood frame stands where he hopes to finish his home by Thanksgiving, which is also his wedding anniversary to his wife Shirley.
“It’s not easy to talk about,” says Zambruno. “I get a little emotional.”
Frank and Shirley barely got out with their lives and little else when the fire roared in from the mountains nearby. They’re home, barn, and Frank’s art studio were reduced to ash.
The fire burned everything in its path causing devastation and giving people who lived here little hope. But a year later they’re beginning to rebuild and they have new dreams ahead.
NewsChannel 3 first met with the Zambrunos when they lost it all and it seemed impossible to know what would come next.
They’d lived in that house since 1980.
Now, new life in the High Desert and Pioneertown is everywhere — Joshua trees once thought dead are sprouting new life.
It reminds Frank of what his mother used to say.
“She always said don’t cry over spilt milk.”
The good news for the Zambrunos is they had home insurance and they’re able to keep it.
People who’d like to buy property and homes in the area are having trouble getting new insurance policies there.