Howard and Merritt Booster stand in front of their new home being built in Santa Rosa where their previous house was destroyed by the 2017 Tubbs Fire.

Jeffrey Schaub/KCBS Radio

Tubbs Fire Survivors Finally Rebuilding And Going Off The Grid

Jeffrey Schaub
May 14, 2019 - 9:39 am

SANTA ROSA —A Sonoma County couple who lost their home in the 2017 Tubbs Fire is finally rebuilding and going in a unique direction with the construction.

The new home of Howard and Merritt Booste in Santa Rosa's Rincon Valley will be built with steel and aluminum framed modular construction and be completely off the grid thanks to solar panels. 

A gravel road leads up to what will be the Booster's house. Workers were toiling during a recent visit by KCBS Radio. 

"We've lived on this site for 35 years," said Howard. 

The Boosters wanted a 1950s Frank Lloyd Wright-style home with expansive windows, but constructed with 2019 technologies. The metal frame is prefabricated and "goes together like an Erecter set," Howard said. 

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Its exterior walls are fire resistant and, unlike their old home, there's no attic that flames could enter. 

"It was gone in minutes," said Merritt, talking about the house that was destroyed. "Just an incredibly intense fire."

Solar panels will supply all the electricity that the 2,800-square-foot home needs. 

The Boosters will never be able to replace what they’ve lost in the Tubbs Fire, but "we are focused forward," Merritt said. "And I just visualize my grandkids playing here and families coming. So, we're trying to be very positive."