Hearts broke throughout the MINI community this past Saturday when news that its goodwill ambassadors and SCMM members, Norm and Jesse Nelson, lost their home in the devastating Carr Fire in Northern California.
The massive blaze, touched off by a vehicle malfunction on Monday afternoon along Highway 299 in Whiskeytown, exploded Friday night doubling in size to more than 80,000 acres, forcing some 38,000 residents to flee.
The Nelsons along with their dog Sampson had been evacuated and were being sheltered by friends in Redding, all the while posting optimistic messages on Facebook to their hundreds of concerned family and friends who were following news of the fast moving wildfire.
At one point it seemed the danger had passed, only burning some of their land. Then Saturday morning Jesse posted the five words that everyone prayed not to hear, “We have lost our home.”
Norm and Jesse’s Facebook pages have been flooded with an outpouring of condolences, and offers of shelter and support during this unimaginable disaster. Although the home was destroyed, a bit of good news is that the detached garage containing most of the Nelson’s prized vehicles was saved.
Norm later posting: “Our house and upper garage is gone. Chiquita and MNE Eagle are gone. But the good news is Mini Mahal [their other garage] has survived for now which means Pynt Syz, Pooper, Woody, Tiny Tows, and Mini Mail and our MG Midget should be safe to drive another run. Please don’t make donations for Jesse and I. We will be okay. But Capital City Minis is setting up a GoFundMe account for victims of the Carr Fire. Thanks.”
Not surprising, the greatest inspiration coming out of this tragedy is Norm and Jesse themselves. Their ability to see past the material loss and remain positive gives reassurance to the hundreds of friends around the country and beyond who are following their situation with broken hearts on Facebook.
“Its times like this when you cherish the positives in your life. We are blessed with our health, a loving relationship, a wonderful dog, and supportive family and great true friends. Our lives have been full and we look ahead to more fun. I was worried about losing all the photos and memories. Then I realized my life is on Facebook so it’s all still there. While we have lost our house, we will still have a home. We will build something new. It was also time to change my wardrobe. We will get new furniture and appliances. Life will go on. We will keep all our friends. So the outlook is positive. Thanks to you all for your wonderful support,” said Norm in a post on Saturday, which seemed to be meant to comfort those who were expressing their sympathy.
As of Sunday afternoon, July 29, the Carr Fire has burned more than 90,000 acres and is 5% contained. Cal Fire reports 517 structures destroyed, 135 damaged, and 5,012 are threatened. The death toll stands at six with seven other residents reported missing.