Former Loomis mayor loses everything in Camp FireBy: Brody Fernandez Of Gold Country Media
After nearly 30 years of service to Loomis, former Loomis Mayor Walt Scherer’s retirement to Paradise has turned into a nightmare. Moving to the small town in April 2017, Scherer was looking forward to a long and relaxing life in Butte County.
But Scherer lost his house and his belongings in the recent Camp Fire.
Scherer’s history in Loomis dates back to the early 1970s, when his family moved from Southern California. Mary Frances Scherer, his mother, started the Loomis Dolphins Swim team, which started out as a recreational summer activity, according to Scherer.
He ran as a write-in candidate for Loomis town treasurer in 1984 to ensure the position would be elected and not appointed. Scherer won his first council seat in 1986 and served on council continuously, except for one term, until 2014.
Gold Country Media asked how he was coping with the loss.
“Well, there isn’t much you can do about it,” Scherer said. “You have to look at the opportunities that lie ahead.”
Scherer talked about how lucky he was to escape the deadly fire.
“I was very fortunate because that day I had got up very early for a doctor’s appointment around 8 a.m. I usually sleep in until about 10 a.m.,” Scherer said. “If that was the case, I don’t think I’d be here. It would have been way too late. When the fire started, I was watering my lawn and I could see the fire directly behind my house about three miles away from the fire.”
The fire quickly spread.
“Soon, there was a breeze that started up. This breeze soon turned into a 40-mile-an-hour wind,” Scherer said. “So I quickly drove to my sister’s house, who was across town. We grabbed everything that was irreplaceable, including the family archives which she had.”
Scherer described the moment he knew he would lose everything.
“When I arrived to my sister’s house, everyone could see embers the size of quarters raining down on the town, starting small fires everywhere. At that point, I knew I would lose everything.”
Scherer lost his house, sports car, motorhome and all his personal belongings.
Although Scherer said that he was insured, others were not.
“I was fortunate enough to have pretty good insurance and had to only stay at the evacuation center for about two days,” Scherer said. “My sister unfortunately did not have insurance and she also lost everything.”
Scherer plans on moving back and rebuilding.
“It’s tough because I don’t know what I have still up there and what is destroyed. But Paradise is a very nice place to live,” Scherer said. “It’s very quiet and not surrounded by cities looking to grow and destroy you.”
Scherer hopes that Paradise will model an effective master plan after the disaster.
“I’d like to see the town of Paradise take the opportunity they have now to really do a master plan like Loomis has,” Scherer said. “This would aim to design future growth to the town with a high-density project in the center of it, which creates energy for commercial development to come into the town.”
As Scherer waits for federal and local agencies to allow him back into Paradise to assess and survey his damaged property; he shared a way residents here can help.
“Please if anyone can help my sister, Jo Miller, she has set up a Go Fund Me page and it would be greatly appreciated,” Scherer said.
Scherer remained in good spirits and only had one message for his former Loomis residents.
“I may have lost everything but it also presents an opportunity as I still have lots of life ahead,” Scherer said. “You can’t turn back time.”