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Utahn loses everything in California fire

Posted at 9:43 PM, Dec 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-12 23:43:51-05

LOS ANGELES – Luke Baptiste and his family were away from their Ojai, Calif. home last week, when they returned, they found a pile of ash.

“It’s pretty overwhelming,” Baptiste said.  “Everything that we worked for our entire lives – it’s gone.”

Photos show the devastation left by the blaze.  Last year, the Utah native and his wife celebrated their first Christmas as newlyweds in their home.  This year, only a fireplace is standing.

“We have memories in that house, and we were planning to have Christmas there this year,” Baptiste said.  “It’s also sad when you’re there, all of the hills were green, there was wildlife, it’s in a natural forest right behind us, and all of it is just black ash now.”

The house was destroyed on the night of December 7.  Luke isn’t letting the tragedy consume his dreams.  He is remaining positive, and vows to rebuild.

“I’m not going to dwell in what we lost, but see what we can do to help the rest of the community and the people who need it most,” he said.  “We are just focused on trying to rebuild up there.”

Luke believes about 90 percent of his neighborhood is gone.  A Go Fund Me page is raising money for Luke and his family as they look to rebuild.  He is touched by the support.

“It’s been amazing, honestly, our hearts are touched,” Baptiste said.  “We are blown away by the support we have gotten.  It makes everything so much easier.”

Luke is thankful his family is safe.  They are currently living in an apartment in Los Angeles as they prepare to rebuild.