A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood Friday to commemorate the first certified home ready to be occupied since the community was hit by North Bay wildfires, the first physical sign of progress.
"I mean it’s officially that I am back in my home," said Santa Rosa resident Dan Bradford, "I’m living here, I am back where I was. I’m going to be walking my dogs in this neighborhood."
A year and a half ago, Bradford, along with the rest of the Coffey Park community, waded through a sea of their lives’ possessions as flames destroyed the entire neighborhood. In about six months, workers were able to build Bradford’s new home from the ground up.
Along with Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey, Bradford toured his new home on Kerry Lane.
"Our residents, like Dan, have persevered," Coursey said. "It makes me really proud to be a part of this community."
Bradford’s home stood 1,235 square feet before the fires and 1,235 after. His hope and persistence prompted many to fight back tears.
"It’s very emotional because I know of so many people who lost so much," said neighbor Linda Hamick. "And so to see friends that are getting their homes rebuilt, and our friends, and our kids, parents, friends, it means a lot."
Several homes in the Coffey Park neighborhood continue to be rebuilt, some expected to open as soon as June 6 and June 9.
"It’s a symbol of hope," Bradford said. "I mean the people that I’ve talked to, they’re so positive, too, because they know that theirs too will be rebuilt shortly."