Kern firefighter's daughter loses house in Thomas Fire

All family wants is a normal Christmas

INSTRUCTIONS TO HELP CHAPPELL FAMILY AT BOTTOM.

Danica Chappell was glued to the TV yesterday, as she and her young children watched her neighborhood burn.

"Did you hear that my house burned down today?" one of her children asked.

Chappell was born and raised in Kernville, but has lived in Ventura for two and a half years.

"We moved in when I was about nine months pregnant with Hazel, my younger child and she was born right in the living room," said Chappell with a smile.

Her father, Captain Adam Graehl has been a Kern County Firefighter for over 40 years. 

And even though she spent her youth at the fire station, "this is really the first time I've seen anything like this," Chappell explained.

With the help of whipping winds, the Thomas Fire roared toward Ventura.

Chappell called her father for advice and shortly after she and her husband Dylan started packing while their two children slept.

"That sense of doom that I had, it kind of allowed us to have that extra bit of time to pack our essentials," said Chappell.

Birth certificates, hard drives, clothes, some artwork, thrown into duffel bags.

Late Monday night, the evacuation order came.

"It was pandemonium the cars getting out of there. I never thought before about what that would look like, there were multiple car accidents," recalled Chappell.

On Tuesday, a neighbor shot video of her house on fire.

On Facebook Chappell wrote, "Goodbye house."

Firefighters told Chappell and her husband they could not save her house.

But during a live news report, firefighters worked to preserve their belongings, pulling out the Christmas tree. 

We visited the remains of Chappell's house Wednesday. It was decimated.

"That's where all of our Christmas presents were," she said seeing photos of the aftermath for the first time.

"It looks like what I expected," she added.

Staying at her mother's house in Bakersfield, Chappell and her family are just hoping for a normal Christmas. 

"I don't think I need anything," she said, adding "We believe in Santa Claus, and I'd like for them to still have some sort of Christmas."

INSTRUCTIONS TO HELP THE CHAPPELL FAMILY:

GO FUND ME, Organized by family friends of the Chappells.

https://www.gofundme.com/fundraiser-for-the-chappells

OR

KERN COUNTY FIRE HQ: 5642 VICTOR STREET, BAKERSFIELD, CA, 93308

During the hours between 8AM and 4PM, the KCFD HQ will accept donations of clothing, blankets, or even Christmas gifts for the Chappell children, Hudson and Hazel. (4 and 2 respectively).


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