Matthew Porter, the armorer of the U.S. Olympic Fencing Team in Rio, returned home to California this week to find that the new home he and his wife had just purchased in Lower Lake had been destroyed in the Clayton Fire. KRON 4 reports the news, with head fencing coach Greg Massialas explaining that Porter is the guy who "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."
Porter, a three-time U.S. Olympic armorer, had apparently just purchased the home, in cash, days before leaving for the Olympics in Rio, and arrived back to find it gone. Apparently his wife Karen stayed behind at home, and she was only able to escape the flames Karen "with little more than their dogs," according to a GoFundMe page that has been set up for the Porters.
It has already reached 25 percent of its $100,000 goal.
The Clayton Fire, which we now know began as an act of arson, broke out Saturday evening, August 13, and quickly grew to several thousand acres. Nearly a week in, it is now 65 percent contained, after having destroyed 300 structures, at least 175 of those homes and all this destruction happened in Lake County which was already hit with three major wildfires last summer, including the devastating Valley Fire.
As the LA Times discusses in a new piece today, "Blessed with natural beauty, Lake County is also bedeviled by pervasive poverty." The poverty rate in the town of Clearlake is 34 percent, more than double the national average, and twenty percent of the population is disabled. According to one local, of the many homes that were destroyed by fire in the county in the last two years, only about 10 percent are in the process of being rebuilt, because the vast majority of people couldn't afford to rebuild.