Greenhorn house fire, 1 year later | TheUnion.com
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Greenhorn house fire, 1 year later

Editor’s note: John and Pam Goetz were burned out of their Greenhorn-area home on Sept. 23, 2009. Fire officials and the Red Cross said they believed the fire might have started when rags used to oil the deck just hours before spontaneously combusted. The fire caused about $450,000 in damage. John Goetz was the only person home at the time of the fire.

By Pam Goetz

Special to The Union



A year ago today, our house off Greenhorn Road burned down. Our lives changed dramatically.

Two beloved cats in our bedroom died from smoke inhalation. While we lived in a motel for seven weeks, a bear killed two of our goats; we saved a third, thanks to the help of a bear trapper. A raccoon attacked all of our chickens and ducks except one.




We returned to our property to live in trailers with our disabled daughter and two granddaughters. It was a very wet winter, and our cramped quarters offered us a closeness of spirit, but a daily struggle we had never experienced before.

We are strong, and we secured that strength in our family. But, some months later, a neighborhood pit bull terrier came and killed our beloved dog, Sparky, and violently attacked our other dog, Jazzy.

What helped us survive was the memory of all the fire departments that responded to our fire; and the Red Cross volunteers who arrived before the fire was out and sat with us, offering their kind support and solutions for our immediate needs.

In the days to follow, this kind community gave very generous donations of clothes, blankets and toys. The grandchildren still hold on tightly to their special quilts made by local quilters.

A special thanks to KARE Crisis Center for their immediate response to our tragedy, and to PRIDE Industries who, under the direction of Dawn Horath, organized meals for us for three weeks.

It was Horath who had brought our disabled daughter home from her program that day, discovered the fire and alerted my husband and all the animals she could find in the house. Thank you Dawn!

Thanks also to Hennessy School and Sierra College Child Development Center for helping our grandchildren deal with their grief.

There is no better place to have a tragedy strike your family than in Nevada County. I see this outpouring of love and support so often here, but to experience it is heartwarming and precious.

To our son Michael, who came to our motel the next day offering whatever help we needed, we love you.

And to Farmers Insurance, which offered support, reassurance and immediate financial support: Thank you, Sharon Sims and all the rest.

To one very special fireman, from Nevada County Consolidated Fire Protection District, we give our love and thanks for answering all of our questions, asking what we needed out of the house that he might be able get for us, for bringing directly to us important items such as our fire safe and private items he knew we would want immediately, and for giving us comfort as to all of our animals, large and small who did or did not survive as our house burned.

We give thanks to two other firemen who, fully suited with oxygen gear, went in and out of our house repeatedly, pulling out what might be saved including our melted computer with a salvageable hard drive.

To the Washington Conservation Camp youth, who stood shoulder to shoulder watching for any possible spread of this fire from our 10-acre parcel to neighboring property, we give you a very special, heartfelt thanks.


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