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Auburn couple home again after 49 Fire

Allan and Peggy Mayer lost almost everything in the Aug. 30, 2009 blaze
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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The decorations were up and the tree trimmed as Allan and Peggy Mayer looked forward this week to celebrating their first Christmas in their brand new home. It’s been a long journey from Aug. 30, 2009 when the 49 Fire burned their Saddleview Court house to the ground, leaving only the foundation. That day lives in vivid memory for the couple. “We smelled something burning,” Allan Mayer said. “So I went out front and saw smoke rising in the distance. I told my wife I was going to take a drive to see where it was. As I went toward Highway 49, I could see flames behind 84 Lumber and in the open fields (nearby).” It seemed far enough away that Mayer wasn’t too concerned about it reaching his property. But by the time he arrived back home, Peggy Mayer had already received a call from the Placer County Sheriff’s Department asking for voluntary evacuation. “I started looking around the house for what to grab,” Mayer said. The first thing he retrieved was a folder with all the important documents. “About that time, (a sheriff’s official) knocked on the door and told us we had to leave immediately,” he said. The Mayers had just finished putting in new flooring and carpeting the previous Friday and their son and daughter-in-law, who live in Rocklin, were coming over for dinner to see the changes. So they gave their son a call and then loaded the food into Peggy’s car as they prepared to go his home instead. Before leaving, Allan Mayer made one last trip into the house. “Because of remodeling, we had a lot of (family) pictures that had been on the wall in the spare bedroom,” Mayer said. “So I decided to grab those and I’m glad I did. We had two changes of clothing and that was it.” The Mayers received a couple of conflicting reports on the status of their home until about 7:30 that night when a neighbor called to tell them it was gone. Now, as they look back on the months of rebuilding, they’re thankful the process went smoothly. “(Insurance company) AAA handled it very professionally and they were very kind and considerate to us,” Mayer said. “They had us moved into a rental home in Christian Valley by that Friday and they started getting us funding for clothing and other needs.” Within a couple of months, the land had been cleared, including the foundation. “Our biggest problem was deciding what we’d do — if we’d rebuild the same home or something different,” he said. “We decided we wanted something completely different because of the memories of the loss.” After considerable searching, Peggy Mayer found the home she wanted in Southern Homes Living magazine. And that’s what they built, with a few modifications. They hired Auburn contractor Mike Cline, owner of Michael Cline Construction, for the project. “He’s just been great,” Mayer said. “He’s a superb craftsman and he built us a beautiful home.” Cline and his crew broke ground for construction last February, but rains slowed progress. The house was finally completed in November and the Mayers moved in shortly before Thanksgiving. Although the interior and exterior of the home are completed, the landscaping is still in progress. One of the major considerations was making the most of the view. “We wanted to capitalize on capturing that view from as many rooms as possible,” Mayer said. “So we have a lot of windows and nice expansive decking around the house.” They chose warm tones throughout the interior. “We have a lot of cherry cabinetry and a lot of molding,” he said. “The detailing is absolutely incredible. Mike did a wonderful job. That’s one of his areas of expertise were he excels.” The one-story, 3,000-square-foot house is the same size they had before and features a 16-and-a-half-foot ceiling in the living room. “It’s one of the nicer homes I’ve built and it came in at a very reasonable price,” Cline said. “I did a timber frame for the porch overhang. They have a sunroom and I timber-framed that.” New building and fire codes have eased worries the Mayers had of moving back to the same spot. “We have a lot more protection in this home,” Allan Mayer said. “The house has a stucco-finish exterior. We have a 50-year composition roof, which of course is very good protection. The new venting they had to do for the roof makes a big difference. All the soffits had to be covered. The windows are different — the glass is tempered to give additional fire protection. There are lots of built-in protections.” In fact, in returning to their pristine new surroundings, their worries are not about another fire. “The only concern about rebuilding is the memory of the loss itself,” Mayer said.