Creek Fire deals devastating blow to Fresno County elementary school's students, staff

Amazingly, Pine Ridge Elementary School, home to about 100 K-8 students, is still standing.
SHAVER LAKE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Flames from the Creek Fire ripped through Pine Ridge Elementary School's bus barn and melted the playground equipment.

But amazingly, the school, home to about 100 K-8 students, is still standing.

Unfortunately, many of the school's students and staff can't say the same about their homes.

"As long as we can have each other, we'll be ok," Pine Ridge Elementary School teacher Max Taylor told some of his students over an emotional Zoom call on Thursday.

The Creek Fire took Taylor's home of ten years, and he has heard that many of his students' houses were also reduced to ashes.

So he knows he has to be strong - not just for his own family, but his school family too.

"They're looking to us for leadership, so it's kind of one of those rise-above situations," Taylor said.

Amy Osterberg, a third grade teacher at Pine Ridge and her husband Sean, the principal of Sierra Junior High and High School, lost their home too.

"We have to be strong for our kids," Amy Osterberg said. "We have to be strong for our community. What else do you do?"

They're grateful to still have each other and their daughters.

Elation fills the air when they hear that homes of co-workers and friends were spared.

"Those are like wins," Sean Osterberg said. "I mean we're looking for wins right now...we're cheering when they say their house is still there."

Someday, the Osterbergs say they will call the mountains home again.

Taylor plans to too - it's in his blood.

But they're aware the healing and rebuilding process will take time.

"I think our community in itself is just outstanding," Taylor said. "And one of the reasons why I wanted to be a teacher there is just because of the friends and family that we have in that area. And I know we're all going to be leaning on each other, and lot of hugs, lot of tears next few months."
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