JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As thousands of people are dealing with tragedy from deadly fires in California, a former Jacksonville man whose family lost a home to another fire this summer is offering some words of encouragement.
Steve Lazaraton, a former swim coach at The Bolles School in Jacksonville, and his family moved to Redding, California, about two years ago.
In July, they lost their first West Coast home to the Carr Fire. Lazaraton, his wife and two daughters were able to grab a few things before escaping, but returned to find nothing but rubble where their home once stood.
Now, not even four months later, the Lazaratons are just about 60 miles north of Paradise, where dozens have been killed by a new wildfire -- and even more remain unaccounted for.
Lazaraton's wife works at a hospital in Redding and said it’s one of several hospitals that’s taken in patients from a hospital in Paradise that’s no longer there.
In an interview with News4Jax on Wednesday, Lazaraton encouraged people currently impacted by the fires to stay strong.
"There’s always good being done. One of the things we’ve seen in Redding is how great the community comes together around people that have experienced tragic and traumatic loss," Lazaraton said. "There’s always good around you. We’ve been fortunate to just be loved on by friends here, friends back in Jacksonville, and I know there were a lot of people willing to help. We’ve had friends who have gone down to the Chico area to help out."
The Lazaraton family just got cleared to rebuild their house on the same lot where their first home burned down.