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New lawn donated to fire victim

Local contractor fixes up front yard for woman who lost home in 2007

Posted: October 29, 2009 9:50 p.m.
Updated: October 30, 2009 5:30 a.m.

Canyon Country resident Tracy Michaelis, right, and children kids Daryll, 9, and Rachel, 11 enjoy their new front yard Thursday. Oakridge Landscape agreed to donate a free lawn to the family. The Michaelis were one of many families in Canyon Country who lost their homes in the 2007 Buckweed Fire.

When Tracy Michaelis received a letter from the city telling her to fix her dirt lawn, she was annoyed.

The victim of the Buckweed Fire of 2007 had recently rebuilt her home after it had been completely burned and couldn't afford to replace her front lawn, she said.

After she contacted city officials for help, they put her in touch with a landscaping company, which replaced her lawn for free.

"Paying the mortgage and buying groceries was more important than fixing our yard," Michaelis said.

The years following the fire have been extremely stressful for her family. And getting the letter from the city, which was unaware she was a fire victim before she contacted them, only added to the frustration, she said.

The city contacted Oakridge Landscape which agreed to give the Michaelis family a free lawn.

Oakridge is adding sprinklers, trees, grass, shrubs and turf to the once-dirt lot, said the company's president, Jeff Myers. He said the work would have cost $2,000 to $3,000.

"They were extremely excited and very grateful for the service," Myers said. "She gave the employees helping cakes, cookies and drinks."

Michaelis, who said getting the new lawn has been a blessing, realized the front of her house would be landscaped on the two-year anniversary of the day her family's home was burned.

Like the lawn, many of the items in her newly built home, including her dining room table and television, have been donated by friends and family, she said.

The day after her home was burned, she and her husband went to see what valuables could be salvaged.

They found looters had already dug up the home's copper piping and rummaged through her belongings, Michaelis said.

Getting the new lawn has helped her cope with the trauma her family has endured, she said.

"It's nice to look out the window and see plants," she said. "It makes you feel good."


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