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San Diego volunteers help rebuild homes destroyed by 2018 Camp Fire

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Posted at 7:18 PM, Jul 17, 2022

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A group of local volunteers is helping rebuild homes destroyed by the 2018 Camp Fire.

It was the deadliest wildfire in state history. Eighty-five people died, and more than 18,000 structures were damaged in Northern California.

"We're just now started to rebuild and help people get back into their homes three and a half years after the disaster," John Zawis said.

Zawis and Peter Yang returned home Sunday after spending one week in the town of Paradise to rebuild the houses of Camp Fire victims.

"We built up walls, put the sheeting on, put the roof on, and this time we built a 40-foot deck all in a week," Zawis said.

The men are part of a volunteer group with International Relief Teams (IRT), an organization that helps families recover after a disaster.

"Once I retired, I wanted to actually be involved with the physical helping of people and building," Yang said.

Zawis said when he first visited Paradise a year and a half ago, it looked like a ghost town.

"It was kind of eerie because there's a town, but all the houses are gone. The lots have been stripped," Zawis said.

However, Zawis said it seems like the town is slowly coming back to life during the most recent trip.

"Lots of building going on, and people are starting to move back in, so it's been a really exciting time to get back up there," Zawis said.

IRT said they've been able to rebuild 16 homes so far.

"Oftentimes, we're able to meet with the homeowners that we're building for, and to see their sense of gratitude for the people helping build these houses is very gratifying," Yang said.

The organization said it plans to help recovery efforts in Paradise for the next four years.