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Erskine Fire survivor longs for return to South Lake

James Hoover lost his home in South Lake, Calif., to the Erskine Fire. A year later, he's landed in Weldon but still hopes to return soon to his old address. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Eyewitness News first encountered James Hoover and his wife, Debbie, on the third day of the Erskine Fire.

They had just returned for the first time to the place where their home once was. Devastated but determined to rebuild, James Hoover walked out into the rubble and planted an American flag.

A year later, Hoover is renting a home in Weldon but still plans to get back to South Lake.

Like many who lost homes, Hoover's situation is complicated. He's still attempting to regain complete control of his home, which he says now has a large tax lien tied to the state's environmental clean-up.

But even if the Hoovers were to return to their South Lake neighborhood tomorrow, it wouldn't be the same. Many of their neighbors don't plan to return. We found a checkerboard of temporary FEMA-issued housing units and still-empty lots.

Watch the video for more on Hoover's personal story of recovery.

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