He may be in uniform but today Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshall Paul Lowenthal is just like any one of the more than six thousand homeowners here. “This was the entryway,” he says, walking over what used to be the front threshold.
Beginning on Sunday night, October 8, the Tubbs fire ripped through Sonoma county, and destroyed his home. There’s nothing left to salvage, though he found a few things he’ll keep. “Kind of old badges from throughout my career,” he says, while shuffling through the half-dozen or so charred badges.
As a firefighter, Paul understands how this happened. He knows the goal was to protect his community and that most of the other homes in his Larkfield community would burn. Now the question everyone is pondering – will they rebuild? “Yes, I do plan on rebuilding,” he says.
One of the first steps in that process is to clear all this hazardous and toxic debris from the property, and that includes slab foundations. “It sat and smoldered for days, and there’s evidence of that.” It’s cracking and crumbling. “I know that my structure is a complete loss, my foundation is not salvageable and that there’s a process in place that’s going to clean and clear as many properties as quickly as possible it was the right decision to make.”
Today, Paul Lowenthal is making his first trip to the ROE center. He’s talked with his insurance company and decided it’s in his best interest to fill-out, sign and turn-in the right-of-entry form, the ROE. This will allow the us army corps of engineers to do the clearing for him at no out-of-pocket cost to him.
“Hopefully we’ll see a lot of ROEs in our areas that’ll allow the Army Corps of Engineers to quickly and efficiently do a lot of good work,” says Lowenthal. “And it’ll also give me time to focus on other things and work towards my rebuilding, working with an architect, with a designer, a builder and continue moving forward with my own recovery process.” As an assistant fire marshal, he knows what the intense and sustained heat from the fire has done to his foundation, so it goes. And the more ROE’s that come in the faster and better his entire community’s recovery will be.
“Ultimately get our community back to where it was if not better. It’s just going to take time.”