MALIBU, Calif. — In November 2018, the Woolsey Fire burned Corey and Danusia Larsen's Malibu home to the ground — 23 years of memories turned to ash.
What You Need To Know
- In November 2018, the Woolsey Fire burned Corey and Danusia Larsen’s Malibu home of 23 years
- In Malibu, at least 670 structures were destroyed, including over 400 single-family homes during the Woolsey Fire
- This year, California has already seen a 700% increase in fire activity compared to last year, according to CalFire
- The Larsens went above and beyond to fireproof their new home and property during the rebuilding process
"We lost a lot of things in the house that are irreplaceable, that hurts. Family heirlooms that can't—I can't even go there before I'll start crying again," Danusia Larsen said.
The couple managed to escape with the clothes on their back, but now the couple is not taking any chances as they rebuild before the next disaster strikes. They went above and beyond to fireproof their property, favoring function over aesthetic with a prefabricated home made of metal and an aluminum deck, sealed off so embers can't get underneath.
It is a far cry from what they had before.
"The deck that we had off the house," she said. "It was a two-tiered deck, and it was redwood, and that's what brought down our house."
They also installed tanks to capture rainwater to hose down their house during a fire, adding to over 2,000 gallons of water for emergency use on their property. Corey Larsen said they want to be as self-sufficient as possible because he saw how emergency responders were stretched thin during the Woolsey Fire, which burned over 400 single-family homes in Malibu.
This year, California has already seen a 700% increase in fire activity compared to last year, according to CalFire.
He is also making sure he and his wife have enough fresh water for drinking and showers with a 500-gallon tank along with their own power, which includes solar panels and a backup generator. The Larsens also created at least 5 feet of defensible space between the home and their new drought-friendly landscaping.
Last time, they had mulch that went right up to their home, fueling the flames.
Danusia Larsen said they had evacuated fires in the past but always relied on firefighters to save them.
This time, they learned how to prepare and respond to disasters by becoming part of Malibu's Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, and learned how to use ham radios. They also earned "Best Prepared Overall" in the City's Woolsey Anniversary Preparedness Competition.
"It's a different reality completely. You know, before it was just beautiful views, dealing with traffic a little, but now there is a whole other aspect where we look at things differently," she said. "I see the trees that are close to the house, and it scares me."
Even though they lost so much in that devastating fire, Danusia Larsen is grateful one thing remains — a large heart-shaped piece of concrete discovered in the debris.
"To me, that is the heart of our foundation, the heart of our family, our home that we had for 23 years, and it remained watching over the building of all this," she said. "And I am very excited that it is still here."