Member of U.S. Olympic team returns to find home destroyed in Clayton Fire

- LOWER LAKE, Calif. (KTVU) - The thrill of Olympic victory for Matthew Porter, quickly gave way to immense loss when Porter returned to California and saw that his dream home had been destroyed by the wildfire in Lake County.

Porter is a veteran armourer, whose job is maintaining and preparing the equipment for the U.S. Fencing team. Rio was his third Olympics.

"All of the fencers did a wonderful job and it was an honor to be part of that," Porter said, "We were hoping to get three medals."

They ended up with four. Two individual mens’ silver medals, and two team bronze medals.

Elated and excited, Porter was ready to come home to his other dream, the house he and his wife Karen had bought just a few months before he left for Rio in Lower Lake.

Karen e-mailed her husband Sunday saying they had been spared from the wildfire, but an hour later the fire jumped the line.

"The yard was filled with smoke, the air was orange. I grabbed the dogs and threw them into one container," Karen said, "I threw everything in the car and forgot my purse."

Porter was watching footage of the fire online from Rio, and for hours, he had no idea what happened to Karen and whether she made it out alive.

"It was horrible. I was not sure what was going on. I was trying to find out," Matthew said.

The world of fencing and Olympic dreams faded in the face of what mattered most.

"She's the most important thing in my world," Matthew said.

Now, their world, like so many of their neighbors, has been torched and left in ruin.

Matthew and Karen had paid cash for their new home. And, they had no insurance.

"In the rush of getting in there and then the Olympics coming up, not everything everything got done that should have  been done," Matthew said, "Unfortunately one of the things that didn't get done was insurance. And so we are not insured."

The house was not the only loss. Matthew also had been running his business from home and lost everything.

“Matthew made sure our weapons were in absolutely top shape and was critical in making sure that we did not miss a single point due to our equipment. It is a shame that after he spent so much of his time making sure Team USA had the opportunities for success, he lost everything," said Greg Massialas, head coach of the U.S. Olympic men’s foil team.

That Olympic spirit of perseverance came through, as Matthew stood next to his wife Thursday night, vowing to return to their property in Lake County and rebuild their dream.

"You don't give up," he said.

Friends have created a gofundme account to help Matthew and Karen Porter.

 

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