Carr Fire: The Grinch That Burned Christmas

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Before the Carr Fire, the Stevens home was decked out for Christmas each hear. Photo credit: KImberly Stevens.

There once was a Christmas house on Harlan Drive in Redding. Santa greeted everyone in the evenings. Hot chocolate and cookies were handed out to all visitors.

But that ended when the Carr Fire swept along Harlan Drive last week, wiping out the magical Christmas house, along with its yard and surrounding neighbors.

Kimberly and Matt Stevens of Redding are the home’s owner. Last year their Christmas house display won 1st place in Redding. For years, vehicles rolled up and down Harlan Drive to get a look at the beautiful Christmas lights and enchanting displays in the front yard.

A GoFundMe site has been set up to give the Stevens the resources to build their Christmas display as soon as possible. Click here to go to the Stevens’ the GoFundMe page.

Here’s what the Stevens said on their GoFundMe page:

On Thursday the 26th 2018 our house at 3085 Harlan Dr.  Redding CA burnt to the ground in the Carr fire, taking all of our Christmas decorations with it.   Over the last 10 years we have opended our house for all to come and visit, sit by the fire and have Coco and cookies.  Santa is there for the kids to visit.  Please help my wife Kim and us rebuild Christmas for all to come and visit.  Thank you for your help. Matt, Kim and family.

I hope you’re one of the many people who had a chance to see what the Stevens created each year to delight the community.

The Stevens’ home was especially popular with families with small children. For free, the public could get out their vehicles, visit Santa and you got out of your car, you could visit Santa and have your picture taken with him inside his living room (which was the front end of the home’s’ garage). You could stroll through the yard that was sparkling at night with the magical wonder of Christmas, while sipping hot chocolate and snacking on a variety of delicious cookies.

There was no shortage of smiles and laughter. Now, vehicles that drive past the Stevens’ home will see nothing but ash and debris. Like mourners, people slowly cruise through the charcoal graveyard with reverence for the homes and memories families lost to the fire.

That Christmas house had sentimental value for me. Toby, my last beloved dog, was dressed as Santa and sat in Santa’s chair. I made my 2015 Christmas card with photos taken there. I sent Santa’s family one of the cards.

They told me last year that they loved the card, and always put it on their fireplace mantel at Christmastime. Last year in 2017 I took photos of friends with Santa. I also took photos of my dog Bodie with Santa, and took pictures of Bodie throughout the yard’s wonderland. Bodie, too, sat in Santa’s chair. One of the picture’s was posted on Facebook as a promotional photo, for a Vietnam Veterans of America program in Shasta County called ‘Shasta Remember Everyone Deployed’. The program sends boxes of goodies to those stationed away from their loved ones.

It was numbing to drive back and visit the area after the Carr Fire destroyed the neighborhood with such burning fury. Santa’s family were very nice, humble, and welcoming people. They lost thousands of dollars worth of homemade decorations and lights that were turned into ash. Here’s pictures of before and after, of the Christmas house that was once on Harlan Drive – a place that brought joy to thousands of people over the years. Any homes you see in the background of the pictures were destroyed by the fire.

My heart breaks for all those who lost homes, and for Santa’s family who lived in that wonderful Christmas house on Harlan Drive.


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Steve DuBois
For many years Steve DuBois has enjoyed taking photos of his dogs in interesting and unusual places. He created a photo book of his dogs especially for the children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where he donated several copies. He loves that the kids enjoy seeing his dogs photographed in unusual ways. Steve says his dogs have been his photographic inspiration and motivation, but sometimes he tries his hand at nature shots, such as the photos he captured of the north state’s 2017 flooding, published here on A News Steve DuBois lives in Redding.
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4 Responses

  1. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Yet another heart-wrenching Carr piece. Thanks, Steve.

  2. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    I think this about says it for Redding and her people. I’ve encountered many emotions on this road called grieving, but I have yet to encounter bitterness. Anger? yes! Disappointment? yes! Frustration? sure! but the resiliency on display day after day across all shades of our citizenry seems to be, primarily, an attitude of the determination type. The Steven’s are a shining example .

  3. Avatar Susan Tavalero says:

    After our fire we used to wish we had $1 for each person that drove up our street to look at the ruins. We could have rebuilt our houses for less….so just think, if each person that drives down Harlan Drive donated just $1 towards their Christmas fund….think if just $1 from each person that visited Santa there! Oh my, they would have a great start!

    • I’d suggest a donation box in front of the property, but some creep would steal it.

      I know people are curious, but I think it’s disrespectful of the people who lost homes, and who still live there, for people to just drive to those areas to see the devastation for themselves.

      It’s how I felt about people taking and posting videos on FB of entire neighborhoods that were destroyed, with a running commentary of addresses and details, as if it was an entertainment attraction.

      My former father-in-law – Don Domke – was lifetime CDF, and had a special disdain for people who’d flock to a fire for the sake of excitement. I’ve thought of him many times in these Carr Fire weeks.