September 6, 2011

Homes gone, Possum Kingdom residents take stock

One couple has decided not to make any quick decisions.

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When the wildfires raged through the Possum Kingdom Lake subdivision known as The Cliffs last week, Larry Anderson barely escaped with his life.

Anderson, who retired from the Dallas Fire Department as a deputy chief, raced the subdivision's lone firetruck through a wall of flames and survived.

Yet he and his wife, Pam, didn't get a firsthand look at the rubble of their house until Sunday. They were one of the 39 Possum Kingdom property owners to lose their home in the 101 Ranch Fire.

"There's a lot of devastation out there," Anderson said Tuesday. "There's 200-year-old trees gone. It's not a pretty sight."

With the winds slowing down, it appeared that the 6,555-acre fire was 85 percent contained, April Phillips, a Forest Service spokeswoman, said at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

"It's looking a lot better," Palo Pinto County Sheriff Ira Mercer said Tuesday. "We actually released some firefighters to go fight the Bastrop fire."

The Andersons have temporarily resettled in a west Fort Worth corporate apartment. The next several days will be filled with return trips to the lake to meet insurance adjusters for their home and their truck. But Larry Anderson said they have set no timetable to rebuild.

"The only decision we've made is not to make a quick decision," Anderson said. "The best thing was, it was unrecognizable. It was just total destruction, total rubble."

He said he isn't sure whether his neighbors who lost homes in The Cliffs will come back.

"There's no consensus," Anderson said. "Nobody has told me what they're going to do. I think a lot of people are like us, just saying, 'Let's wait and see what happens.' There are a lot of unanswered questions about how this will impact property values and salability."

Marsha Bettis, a real estate agent with Pondera Properties, said she has seen a similar response in previous fires around the lake.

"They go through a mourning period," Bettis said. "We just advise them not to make any decision for six months. But there are some who jump right back in and say they don't want to live anywhere else and start rebuilding."

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

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