OROVILLE — Rick Barthol lost his house and four animals when a fire Saturday morning took down his home while he and fiance Laura Sorenson were out to breakfast.
They left their 2020 Summit View home around 7:15 a.m., and neighbor Tom Rogers called Barthol at 10:22 a.m. to let them know their house was fully engulfed in flames.
Oroville Fire Chief Bruce Rawley and 17 volunteer firefighters were on scene by 10:26 a.m. and remained until after 2 p.m.
“You don’t figure you’re the one that’s going to hear your house is on fire,” said Sorenson. “As we drove home, we tried to figure out what might have caused it. Our pellet stove was on low, so we thought it might be something electrical.”
Barthol said he believed it was started by the bathroom fan, left running when they left the home to go to the Oroville Eagles.
“The heat of the fire was right there,” said Barthol. “No one said that’s what caused it, but that’s what I believe happened. It was on a timer that was an hour long, so it must have started within the hour.”
Barthol, a retired sheriff from Contra Costa, Calif., had been living in the home since 2006.
Three pugs and one cat perished in the fire.
“The animals are usually outside, but it was too cold,” said Sorenson, who raises pugs.
A detached garage was saved, although the roof burned.
Barthol had just put in a new kitchen and bathroom.
“It makes you want to cry when you see all that beautiful work gone,” said Rogers.
“We can rebuild it,” said Barthol after speaking with his insurance agent. Looking at Rogers, he joked, “I’ll just have to crack the whip to get you to work faster this time.”
Despite the loss, the residents were attempting to stay light-hearted.
“Well, we won’t have to worry about smoke damage on our clothes, because the closet is gone,” said Barthol as Sorenson picked the remnants of an elf costume up off the ground. “This is the outfit I used for calling out the Joker Poker numbers at the Eagles,” said Sorenson. “They all loved this outfit. They’re not gonna love it now.”
As the fire fighters were leaving, Barthol thanked them for being there.
“I wish it was under different circumstances,” said one firefighter.
“It could have been worse,” said Barthol.
Donations to help Barthol and Sorenson can be dropped off at the Oroville Eagles, 1319 Golden St.; Appleway Video, 1300 Main St.; or Steam Bee Goods Co., 806 Central St.