Family copes with losing home in Tamarack Fire
Special to the Sierra Sun
Benefit concert being held Wednesday evening at South of North Brewing Company
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — While the Tamarack Fire continues to burn, one local family is already grappling with losing nearly everything after their house burned to the ground.
On Friday, July 16, Marshauna Mikelionis, her husband Chris Seal, a musician who often played in Tahoe, and their children Ellington, 7, and Everett, 11, spent the day at Grover Hot Springs. It started getting smokey, but they weren’t too concerned.
Mikelionis later drove to Gardnerville for groceries and by the time she got back the fire had spread.
“It was just eerie looking and everything was really smokey,” Mikelionis said. “You could kind of see the redness and you could just tell it was close to where we were at.”
Although the fire was close, they hadn’t gotten evacuation orders yet. Fortunately, living in a fire prone area, Mikelionis had already packed a go-bag, mapped out potential evacuation routes and ran through the plans with their children. So, when they got the orders to evacuate, they were ready.
“I was prepared for evacuation,” Mikelionis said. “But you can never prepare for losing everything. We could prepare for all those practical steps… but at no point were we thinking our house was going to burn down.”
They went to Mikelionis’ family in Sacramento and that night, while everyone was sleeping, Seal stayed up to watch the news. It was at that point where he saw the charred ruins of where a house used to be and he slowly realized it was their home.
“There was really nothing left so it was hard to tell as first but we had a third car we had to leave behind and based on the proximity of where the burnt out shell of the car was to the propane tank compared to where the house used it be, I was like ‘that looks like our place,’ and I couldn’t believe it,” Seal said.
He rewatched the clip over and over until he was sure that it was their house but he waited until the morning to tell his family the bad news. Shortly after he told them, they received confirmation from ground crews.
The family had lived in the home in Markleeville for two years. Prior to that they lived in South Lake Tahoe for more than a decade. Mikelionis has home-schooled her kids for the past six years and lost all their school supplies and lesson plans.
She’s reached out to the charter school that she homeschools through and the local homeschool community to get the plans and supplies she needs.
“But it’s more the fact that we don’t have a designated space at the moment,” Mikelionis said.
Seal is a professional musician in Lake Tahoe who recently quit his job to take up music full time. He was able to grab several of his instruments, including a couple of his guitars and one of his laptops with his music. However, the recording studio he had built in the house is gone along with many of his other instruments, as well as their kids’ instruments.
As for their children, Seal and Mikelionis are working with them to help process their feelings and letting them know it’s okay to cry and let out their emotions. However, they themselves are also still processing the loss so they aren’t sure what they want their kids to take from the experience in the long term.
“It’s really not easy to process this at all,” Seal said. “I mean, the first reaction to me was, ‘well we’re safe,’ and it’s all just stuff and then now, day by day, you realize how much stuff you take for granted.”
“But, we’re really glad we’re safe and we’re just blown away and just blessed by the outpouring of support that we’ve seen by everyone,” Seal added.
Seal regularly played gigs in venues owned by local Tahoe businessman Ted Kennedy.
Kennedy is throwing Seal a benefit concert at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 21, at South of North Brewing Company.
There is a GoFundMe page set up for the family and donations can also be made through Venmo @Marshauna_Mikelionis and @AshRelics.
Laney Griffo is a Staff Writer for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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