09.16.21 The Day Dora Burned Down, June 7 2021

I didn’t want to write about and share all of this about Dora burning down until the awful process was complete and it now is.

As most everyone who has followed this blog for a while knows, Roy and I lived in our motorhome we lovingly named Dora from November 2012 until May 2018 when we stopped traveling and moved into the home we built in Amite, Louisiana.


On June 7, 2021 Dora burned to the ground in a KOA campground storage building in Chula Visa California in the city she had been living in since early 2019. We still owned Dora but she found a new home there with her adoptive parents Michelle and Patrick Atherton who took loving care of her and enjoyed their time with her.

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Michelle notified me of the fire and I didn’t know how to respond to her that day it just seemed so unreal. I think it took me a couple of days, if not more, for the reality of it to sink in. I wasn’t there to see Dora burned and I am very thankful for that. A video taken by a local news station there showed eight minutes of the burning.  Of the five RVs in the storage building, Dora was in the center. The ones on each end did not burn down but were affected.  The ones on each side of Dora burned completely. 

This was the local fire department’s incident report.  INCIDENT DATE/TIME: 6-7-21 8:30 pm LOCATION: 111 N. 2nd Ave (KOA Campground) CITY: Chula Vista DETAILS: A fire of unknown cause broke out in the back area in the RV/Trailer storage of the KOA Campground. 5 trailers involved. 3 destroyed/ 2 damaged. There were no fire hydrants in the area and engines had to shuttle water to the fire from 1/4 mile away. Propane tanks kept exploding. No injuries were reported. CVFD Fire Investigators will be arriving soon.

Michelle handled a lot of the initial communications with the insurance company, fire department, and mortgage bank. Her proximity to the fire location in California gave her information I couldn’t have from in Louisiana.

On August 3, 2021, the Chula Vista Fire Investigation Unit issued their findings report which included the following: On Monday June 7, 2021 at approximately 2045 hours, Fire Investigators Smith, Beardsley and I responded to a vehicle fire on 111 N. Second Street. The vehicle fire was reported by a KOA employee via a cell phone to 911. The vehicle burning at the time the fire was reported to 911 was in Lot 719 and is a motor home Fleetwood Excursion 39S VIN #XXXXXXX License #XXXXX.

……………….. Two additional trailers sustained radiant heat damage only and are listed below. Investigators identified the area of origin after examining the trailers and motor home and video evidence recorded by the reporting party as XXXX. Investigators were not able to identify the point of origin due to the extent of fire damage to the entire motor home. Investigators observed that the roof and all sides were consumed by the fire. All interior combustibles (furniture, cabinets, wall partitions, upholstery and plastics) were consumed by the fire. Majority of the interior floor was consumed and exposed the vehicle’s framing below. Extensive mechanical damage was observed with the vehicles power cables. Investigators were not able to rule out a mechanical or electrical event as the cause of this fire. The classification of fire cause is Undetermined.

Once the fire investigation was complete we moved on to determining Dora’s value including all the upgrades that Roy and I, as well as Michelle and Patrick put into her.

That was a beast of a project mostly because ALL OF THE RECEIPTS AND ALL PAST DOCUMENTATION FOR DORA WAS BURNED IN THE FIRE. That was such a huge problem that I had to shout it out in capital letters.

Roy ALWAYS scanned every receipt for everything we ever purchased in our lives and I knew where to find all of them. However I was not able to find most of the receipts for Dora on Roy’s computer. I searched and searched for hours looking through the many, many thousands of files he had on his computer and our server but only the receipts for the new Sleep Number Bed and the Wireless Autostart was found.

Finally, the insurance company said they would accept photos of the things we purchased in lieu of receipts so that started a whole new search project. I knew most all pictures would be found in the blog posts we wrote while living in Dora. That wasn’t as easy as just searching for a keyword. I had to get creative and look through all of thousands of photos saved in the blog’s media area.

Michelle was a great help putting prices to the upgrades, finding their receipts and photos. Together we turned in a very detailed, informative document to our insurance company. We also pointed out many errors in the comparative value report the insurance company did to determine Dora’s value. Those errors were corrected and with the upgrades increased (though depreciated) the value and brought Dora’s value to exceed (but not by much) the amount owed on her.

After the RVs on each end were removed

Finally we were all able to agree on a value and the process moved forward.

A check was mailed by the insurance company to our mortgage company and the loan was paid off.

Insurance premiums and bank payments that were paid after the fire date are being dealt with right now. We’ve agreed on how the small amount over the payoff would be handled.

The little pile of what’s left of Dora

One last issue is that some of Dora’s debris is still on the ground at the storage facility where she burned. Most of her was hauled away but those last remaining chunks will be removed soon.

This very sad chapter in my life is over. I know there is no crying in Heaven but Roy knew how I felt the day I learned she was gone. She meant so much to both of us and this is certainly not how I ever would have thought she’d have gone but it was.

Before this happened Chip and I were planning a summer trip flying to California to stay in Dora and drive her up the California coast. That of course didn’t happen but the Atherton’s very graciously invited me to fly out there in the near future and stay in one of their other motorhomes at no cost. I am really looking forward to getting back to California again and enjoying some time away.

Wow since August when I finished this post, Hurricane Ida visited and everything got put to the side.

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