Nearly 21 million U.S. households owned a spa, pool, or hot tub as of Spring 2014. However, for some of those hot tub owners who live in California, lately the hot tubs aren’t able to be utilized.
Dr. Antonio Wong and his wife had their first home as a couple in Southern California. They owned it for more than 10 years. When they moved out of the state in 2008, they decided to rent their Ventura home out to tenants.
After living out of state for nine years, the couple decided to return to their California roots and buy their second home, this time in Santa Rosa. Wong and his wife Pratima loved both of their California homes. Now, both homes are completely gone. Both of them were lost in the raging wildfires that have swept across the state over the past few months. In October their Santa Rosa home was destroyed by the Tubbs Fire, and earlier in December their Ventura home was taken by the Thomas Fire.
“It was pretty devastating. It didn’t seem like I could lose two houses in two separate fires only two months apart,” Antonio Wong told WREG. The couple is currently trying to figure out what to do next.
“I have so much to do to rebuild my house here,” Wong said. “The thought of trying to rebuild a house down there at the same time is overwhelming. I don’t know what I am going to do.”
Back in October, their 19-year-old son woke the couple up when he noticed the Tubbs fire making way toward their home. They gathered their pets, and as the smoke got closer, they noticed that it became harder to breathe. Even though the fire hadn’t yet hit their neighborhood, people living around them were already starting to evacuate.
“We didn’t take all the stuff you would take if you thought your house was going to burn,” Wong told WREG. “So, we took a couple changes of clothes and our IDs, and that’s it.”
The Tubbs Fire melted two of their cars and a motorcycle, and destroyed their home, leaving it in ashes. In November, the family dressed in protective gear spent hours digging through what was left of their Santa Rosa home, trying to see if there was anything salvageable.
On December 4, the family was finally able to have a home-cooked meal. That day, the Thomas Fire broke out hundreds of miles away. Just when they were starting to feel as if they could rebuild after their Santa Rosa life, they received news of the latest fire.
The news via text message said “Bad news. Fire in Santa Paula rapidly moving into Ventura. Giving you a heads up since you have a house there.” Later that day, they received another message that said Hours later, another message said: “Your house was just on tv briefly. Spa looked to be on fire.”
The Wong’s rented their home to four tenants, three of whom were veterans. The couple has yet to see their home in person but were devastated to see what was happening to their first home on television.
Even though their family and friends have been so supportive, the couple is unsure if their insurance will be able to cover the damages. For now, they’re just trying to get by.
“California is changing. There’s been a lot of conversation around this could be the new normal,” Wong said.