Student artist draws homes lost in Creek Fire to help residents heal

FRESNO, Calif. -- As the Creek Fire continues to burn in Central California, a student artist is drawing homes lost to the flames as a way to help residents heal.

"I just hope it helps them heal, maybe smile," said Kylee Conriquez. "I want to help as many people as possible."


Conriquez is a Fresno native who's currently attending Humbolt State University as an art student. She's also worked for the U.S. Forest Service, so when the Creek Fire broke out in the nearby mountain communities, it hit home.

"When it began I just felt sick to my stomach, I hardly could eat," she said. "I was just worried about everybody, it's so personal to me." Her late uncle owned a cabin in Shaver Lake and she's unsure if the cabin survived. Her sister also lives in the area.

"I'm really connected to the community... I wanted to help," she explained. "So I decided to draw homes for those who lost their homes, for free."

Conriquez creates the drawings on her iPad and sends a file to the homeowners for them to print. She says the majority of orders so far have been from friends of homeowners who want to gift a drawing.

"I think it just shows how close our community is," Conriquez said. "Loved ones are wanting to gift it to them as a surprise and I think that's really cool."

That was the case with her drawing of Cressman's General Store, a beloved store that was burned down by the fire. Lauren Perry, a friend of Cressman's owners Tara and Ty Gilett, reached out to Conriquez and had her draw up the iconic storefront.

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"Every time I get teary-eyed and think I'm out of tears and then I get this beautiful drawing yesterday, we were just moved all over again," said Tara Gillett alongside her husband Ty. "It's just really special."

The Gilletts plan to put the drawing inside the store once they rebuild Cressman's.

To see more of Kylee's art, click here to see her website.

You can also visit her Instagram page and message her if you'd like to request a drawing. She can be reached via email at kyleeconriquezartist@gmail.com.