Carr Fire victim picks up pieces of her life

Carr Fire victim picks up pieces of her life
The Carr Fire devoured almost everything from Janet Landles.

The Carr Fire devoured almost everything that belonged to Janet Landles.

Her house. Her great grandmother’s rocking chair. Her late husband’s artwork.

All gone.

Now, as she tries to pick up the pieces of a life ripped apart, Landles has had to start with the smallest of items: a pencil.

“I had to go buy a pencil. I had to buy a piece of paper. I went to the school section and bought a binder,” Landles told CNN. “I don’t own one.

“I don’t own anything.”

Hundreds of homes destroyed

The Carr Fire, which began a week ago, has scorched more than 103,000 acres, bigger than the size of Denver. At one point, it was burning 28 acres a minute.

Hundreds of homes are lost. Hundreds of families figuring out what to do next.

A house filled with memories

Landles’ house in the mountain hamlet of French Gulch was built by her grandfather, who made it using the lumber from his mill. She’d lived there for 45 years.

“It wasn’t a very grandiose home, but it was really lovely,” Landles said.

She said one of her friends, a deputy sheriff, called her and broke the news about her home.

“I haven’t seen it,” she told CNN. “The sheriff watched it burn, and, you know, it’s gone.”

Inside were generations’ worth of family memories, like her great grandmother’s thimble, or her kids’ artwork from Kindergarten that had been hanging on the walls for decades, she said.

Since the fire tore through her home, Landles has been sorting through how to grieve. The days have been easier than the nights, she said.

“During the daytime, you’re busy. You have a lot to do,” she said. “It’s when your head hits the pillow and you remember your home.”

How to move forward

For Landles, moving on comes with questions: how to file insurance claims, how to itemize everything in your home or how long to mourn what’s been lost.

In between, she still has to tend to the mundane: canceling her satellite subscription or home alarm system.

“I don’t know how to get through this process,” she said.

What she does know: “My life is going to be much more defined by the basics from now on.”

Basics that started with a run to the back-to-school section of a store.