Keizertimes. (Salem, Or.) 1979-current, July 17, 2015, Image 12

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    PAGE A12, KEIZERTIMES, JULY 17, 2015
Debbie Wilson
looks over the
destruction
that leveled her
house on June
20, her 56th
birthday.
KEIZERTIMES/
Craig Murphy
FIRE,
continued from Page A1
KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy
A fi re on June 20 destroyed the 115-year-old home of Randy and Debbie Wilson. That day was
Debbie’s 56th birthday. The couple made it out without injury, but the fi re destroyed everything
including a large assortment of tools and weapons Randy had collected over the years as well
as ones he inherited from both his father and grandfather.
“The one thing I’m grate-
ful for is it could have been
worse. It could have been
much worse. If I hadn’t got-
ten her out…” Randy said,
choking back tears. “No one
got hurt.”
At the time, Debbie was
worried about Randy, espe-
cially since he had to keep
getting the dog out of the
burning house.
“In the moment, you don’t
think about material things.
Then after you do,” Debbie
said, noting she hasn’t found
her engagement or wedding
rings – and doesn’t expect to.
“I’m just grateful we weren’t
hurt. The smoke was com-
ing so fast, it was just a black
wall. There was just no time to
think.”
The Wilsons have set up
tarps and pulled out charred
items, including a sword used
in the battle of Gettysburg and
a Native American blanket
that was more than 300 years
old. Sometimes the reality hits
hard.
“You do a task and you go
to get the item,” Debbie said.
“Then you realize it burned
up. It’s unreal. One moment
I’m fi ne, the next moment I’m
a wreck.”
Friends and neighbors have
been helping out, in particu-
lar longtime family friend
Charles ‘Bob’ Rictor as well
as next door neighbors Juan
and Josie Benavidez, who let
the Wilsons put a camper up
in their yard.
Randy, 54, wants others to
learn from their misfortune.
“Don’t store fuel in your
machines. If you have bad
wiring, be aware of it and fi x
it,” said Randy, who believes
faulty wiring near the washer
and dryer started the blaze. “I
don’t want anyone else to go
through this. And make sure
you insure what you’ve got.
We had no insurance. I didn’t
realize how cheap insurance
would have been.”
Randy, a former certifi ed
butcher and artist, doesn’t
know what to do next.
“We’re
screwed,
just
screwed,” he said. “I’ve never
asked for help my entire life.
For the fi rst time in my life, I’d
accept it.”
Even three weeks after the
blaze, Randy still was in shock
as he looked over the rem-
nants.
“It was heaven; it’s hell
now,” he said of the home.
“We’re doing great one mo-
ment, then we’re on fi re. Just
be safe. You can have your par-
adise and your slice of heaven
one day, then it can go to hell
real quick. I don’t want no-
body else to go through this.
I wouldn’t wish this on my
worst enemy.”
puzzle answers
KEIZERTIMES fi le photo
KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy
Randy Wilson shows off one of his large ...and Randy Wilson with the same sword
swords in a picture that ran on the front page this week, after most of his possessions were
burned in a recent fi re.
of the Keizertimes in March 2007...