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Community rallies after blaze – Santa Barbara News-Press

Community rallies after blaze – Santa Barbara News-Press

GoFundMe supports Circle Bar B foreman after Alisal Fire

COURTESY PHOTOS
Jack Rowe hugs his son, Jackson Rowe, after evacuating Circle Bar B Stables during the Alisal Fire.

Members of the community have begun to rally behind a GoFundMe effort in support of Jack Rowe, the stable foreman for Circle Bar B Guest Ranch and Stables, who lost his home and everything he owned in the Alisal Fire. 

When the Alisal Fire started on Oct. 11, Mr. Rowe took action. A true cowboy at heart and experienced foreman, Mr. Rowe helped spearhead the evacuation of about 55 horses from Circle Bar B, where he also resides.  

By the time the horses were loaded and sent to an emergency shelter at the Earl Warren Showgrounds with help from Equine Evac, thick smoke had descended on the ranch property. Mr. Rowe would later learn that his home, along with two other residences on the ranch, was completely destroyed in the blaze. 

A before and after shot shows the destruction of Jack Rowe’s home on the Circle Bar B ranch property as a result of the Alisal Fire. 

“​​It’s the only place we ever lived since we’ve been here and you know, the hardest thing is, you can replace things but, when all we escaped with was the clothes on our back, you (have) to start over from true square one,” Mr. Rowe told the News-Press Friday. 

With Mr. Rowe’s home of 18 years and personal belongings reduced to rubble, Michele Marrone, the mother of Jack’s son, Jackson, began a GoFundMe effort earlier this week to help with rebuilding. (To view the page, visit tinyurl.com/e7whcnzx). 

The GoFundMe has a goal of raising $80,000, and as of press time Friday, donors contributed more than $6,100 to the effort. The money raised will help to fund the rebuilding process.

“We are floored by everybody’s generosity,” Ms. Marrone told the News-Press on Friday. 

Mr. Rowe and Ms. Marrone said the loss of the home has been particularly hard on Jackson, their 11-year-old son. Jackson, who has autism, was by Jack’s side as he was working to evacuate the horses, and the pair did not have time to run into the home to save any personal belongings before it was engulfed in flames. 

Because of his autism, Ms. Marrone said it is hard for Jackson to understand the loss of his home, especially when ranch life was such a big part of his daily routine. 

“The steady schedules are really the thing he needs,” Ms. Marrone said. “And his attachment to the ranch and the happiness he feels with just feeding (the horses) and taking care of them, or just the routines of going from the top of the lodge to the bottom of the lodge in the mornings or whenever — these are things that are devastating to him, and he doesn’t even realize it yet because these routines are just not going to happen for a long time, at least six months or so because of the rebuild.” 

The first step in the rebuilding effort is to begin building up walls around each structure in preparation for flooding and mudflows during the rainy season, Mr. Rowe said. He added that the ranch is still working to restore power and cell service, which has been out for several days. 

Ahead of this weekend’s rainstorm that is expected to drop between one to two inches of rain on the county, the foreman has done what he can to shore up the ranch property, setting up about 2,000 sandbags ahead of the storm. 

He noted that with fire, you can see and smell the smoke, but floods and mudflows are less predictable. 

While there are months of work ahead to restore his home, Mr. Rowe said he is committed to staying in the area. Since living here, Mr. Rowe said he’s seen members of the community care for his son, adding that the “community is so giving.” 

“A lot of people will make money and just keep it in their pocket. This ain’t a town that does that,” Mr. Rowe said. 

Mr. Rowe’s home is one of 12 residences that were destroyed in the Alisal Fire, which scorched more than 17,200 acres. Several GoFundMe pages have been started in support of individuals and families impacted by the blaze. To view these pages, go to gofundme.com and search “Alisal Fire.” 

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Community rallies after blaze