Struggle to rebuild 105-year-old Calistoga ranch after North Bay firestorm

The owners of Mountain Home Ranch in Calistoga say the past year has been nothing like what they expected.

Their 105-year-old ranch burned in the early hours of the Tubbs Fire on Oct. 8, 2017. A year later, owners John and Suzanne Fouts say without the support of their friends, family and community, they would have thrown in the towel long ago.

"We were expecting 'we're gonna sprint to the finish, get this in by spring,'" said John Fouts. "But it's turned out to be a marathon, so you know, we're pacing ourselves."

The process of rebuilding Mountain Home Ranch is taking a lot longer than they expected.

In the immediate aftermath of the Tubbs Fire, the owners told KTVU last October that they'd hoped to be "back in business" and welcoming visitors to Mountain Home Ranch by the coming spring. Now they say that spring of 2020 is a more realistic estimate.

The Fouts say they've spent countless hours on getting permits and figuring out the requirements for rebuilding their ranch and how to pay for them. "I mean, our old septic system operated fine for 70 years," said Suzanne Fouts, "but because it doesn't meet current standards, and now you're talking well over 100 thousand dollars for a new one."

John and Suzanne Fouts have decided to go with fireproof shipping container cabins for the rebuild: Just one example of how the Tubbs Fire stays with them, always. "I can't go to outdoor restaurants where we used to love to sit," said John Fouts, "because they have those flaming heating towers and it just freaks me out."

As the Fouts adjust to their new life, they say they are finding new joy in what else life brings them, without their asking.

"Two weeks ago we went back to see our grandbaby," said Suzanne Fouts, "our first grandchild, who was born 11 days after the fire, and we needed that because we were ready to give up, and we were not going to do this any more."

Now, the Fouts say they don't know how the coming year is going to unfold. But Suzanne Fouts said, "We know it will work out -- we have a lot of people cheering us on, people giving us hugs -- that means the world to us."