SANTA ROSA (KPIX) — When the Tubbs Fire roared into town from the hills above Santa Rosa, Kathy Culley knew she and her husband had to leave their Fountaingrove home as quickly as possible.

“We grabbed a few important things and, of course, each other,” Culley said.

It’s a good thing, because that afternoon the house they built themselves ten years ago was burned to the ground — nothing left but foundation.

The Culleys lost everything but the kitchen sink — actually, they lost that too. And, for some reason, that really bothered Kathy.

“I shined my sink all the time. I cleaned it, I dried it — it was a show piece. It’s a work of art, actually,” she said, adding with mock horror, “Then they discontinued it on me — No!”

Preparing to rebuild, Kathy searched everywhere for her Kohler K-3084-1 sink. Finally, in desperation, she sent an e-mail to Kohler CEO Dave Kohler himself, asking him to build a new sink for her.

Wednesday, she got a message that they’d found the last one in a warehouse and were sending it to her.

“One of the nicest parts about it is that he said he’s not gonna charge me for it … that was huge,” Culley said.

If replacing a sink sounds trivial, it’s not. For the people who lost everything here, little things can mean a lot. Kathy was thrilled to find some cute salt-and-pepper shakers on eBay to replace ones she lost in the fire.

“Sometimes you round the corner in a store and you’ll see something you used to have and it will jolt you. It’s not easy. This has been hard,” she said.

The people in this neighborhood aren’t just replacing their homes — they’re reclaiming their lives. And that’s why finding the sink was such an important victory.

“It’s just a great story. People are hungry for happy stories right now. They want to know you’re OK,” Culley said.

She will be and she’ll always have that sink to remind her of it.

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