SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) -- Dan Bradford fled his 1,235-square-foot Santa Rosa house on Kerry Lane in Coffey Park on Oct. 9 as flames closed in. He said he was awake when a neighbor knocked on his door.
Friday, Congressman Mike Thompson, Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey, Supervisor Susan Gorin and members of the neighborhood "Coffey Strong" group welcomed him back home.
Bradford, 61, is the first Sonoma County resident to complete rebuilding and move back into his home since the Tubbs and Nuns fires in October.
Coursey and Vice Mayor Chris Rogers presented Bradford with a certificate of occupancy. Bradford's rebuilt tan home with green trim also is 1,235 square feet, and the nearby homes with finished framing and those even closer to completion attest he soon will have neighbors again.
Of the more than 5,200 homes in Sonoma County that were destroyed in the fires, 3,000 of them were in Santa Rosa. So far 167 homes are under construction in the city and construction of many of them will be finished in early June, officials said. Construction is pending on an additional 91 homes with building permits and 111 building permit applications are under review.
Bradford has lived in Coffey Park for almost 13 months, and he admitted being overwhelmed by the turnout for his homecoming this afternoon.
He thanked the Lake County contractors who had the experience rebuilding homes in that county a few years ago.
"I was told I would be in by spring, and I am in by spring. They did quality work in a timely manner and it's freakin' magic," he said.
He did admit there were some hiccups in the rebuilding process with local officials and he had to "push some buttons" to streamline things.
Friday, however, he cut the red ribbon outside his rebuilt home.
"This has been an amazing experience. It's a symbol of hope for people to know they also will be here shortly. You have to make a decision you're going to do it and move forward. Be aggressive if you have to. I hope this provides motivation," Bradford said.
Bradford stayed with his brother in Rincon Valley after he lost his home. His brother hooked up the TV in his house Friday, and Bradford said the plan is to have some beers with him and his son on his first evening back in his home, which he shares with his two dogs.
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