Out of the ashes, a phoenix will rise. And just like their home’s namesake, the Palos family is doing just that.
The family is in the process of rebuilding the home they lost on Sequoia Drive in Canyon Country to the 2019 Tick Fire.
Although green and healthy life now grows behind their home, some remnants of the fire that took their castle, such as burnt trees and blackened concrete still exist in patches.
However, according to the Palos family and the architect in charge of crafting their new home, what occurred on the morning of Oct. 25, 2019 — when their house had eventually burned down after sparks and hot ash had made their way into the insulation and framework of the home — won’t happen again.
Working in tandem with Phnx Development, the family plans to move into a house that will be one of a kind for their block: one that is designed with concrete and noncombustible materials able to withstand thousands of degrees of heat.
The Tick Fire
At approximately 1:40 p.m. Oct. 24, the Tick Fire began on the 31600 block of Tick Canyon Road. By the time it was out a week later, the fire propelled by the Santa Ana winds had burned 4,615 acres and destroyed 22 buildings.
On the evening of the first night, Ryan and his wife, Ann, along with their children, said they could see the fire on a far off hillside, but at 10 p.m., believed that it was far enough way that they would be safe. They had packed a few things, including clothes, toiletries, homework, etc., just in case they would have to leave their home for the night and return a day or two later.
But Ann, who said she had set her alarm that night for every 30 minutes, said by 2 a.m., the far-off fire was knocking on their door.
They fled and by morning, the home they were raising their family had burned to the ground. They were the only house on the block to have their home completely immersed in flames.
“We packed the day before with three days of clothes like we were going to run a weekend trip or something,” said Ann.
“We seriously thought we were coming back,” said Ryan.
Their community and neighbors came to their support as best they could. Meals were brought, signs were placed in front of the blackened husk of a home that read “Sequoia Strong,” and a fundraiser generated close to $30,000 for the Palos Family House Emergency Fund.
But while renting a home nearby, and dealing with what they described as PTSD when the smell of smoke or sound of fire engines crossing their paths, the family decided to return to their plot of land. But this time ready to create defenses as best possible.
“I did research on fire resistant ways to build and I came across this article,” said Ryan.
He came across a company that had used an innovative style of construction rarely seen in California, he said. The fire-resistant technology had been used in places like Arizona and Canada, but to his knowledge, not in Southern California, and especially not Santa Clarita.
He spoke with an architect that was familiar with the materials named Laurie Fisher and they, along with the builders, discussed how the technology and build would work.
Through the use of 2-inch fire-resistant foam, 6 inches of poured concrete and roof slats with fire-resistant foam that quickly fit together during construction, they began construction on a home that could both withstand upwards of 2,000-degree temperatures and yet remain energy-efficient and cool during the summer months.
And now on the same site they’re building their new fortress, one that began to take shape in January and will be livable by June, Ann said.
“I kind of think of it more as a ‘You cannot defeat me’-type thing, like ‘we can come back from this,’” said Ann.
Ryan believes the home had a comparable price to any wood construction they would have endured, but he asks “why not” when the topic of energy efficiency and fire safety come up. The structure of the home includes a fully zoned, ducted mini-split heating and cooling system, Tesla photovoltaic power generators, and is completely incombustible, according to the designers.
On Friday, construction workers were seen installing the insulated concrete form and steel. The foundation has been laid, the stories have taken shape and the roof needs to be put on. Their two daughters, who are Sulphur Springs Union School District students, are slightly hesitant at the idea of a new home. But their parents believe they’ll grow to like it once they realize it was designed it with their comfort and safety in mind.
Ryan joked that he and his neighbors had already agreed to do a sleepover at their house when the next fire comes.
“People should know that there are other options like this, especially just because of the fact that we live in California,” he said, “we live here in Santa Clarita.”