Rachael Ray shows the devastating fire damage to her home

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Yesterday marked the premiere of Rachael Ray’ talk show’s 15th season. Rachael has brought viewers into her New York home through her talk show for years, however never so much than when quarantine went into place and it became home base for the show. But on August 9th, that home was destroyed by a chimney fire, taking with it a lifetime of memories for Rachael and her husband, John Cusimano. Fortunately, they both escaped unharmed, as did their dog, Bella. Rachael and John discussed the fire and its devastation for her show’s premiere. Over the weekend, Rachael posted some photos and video of the fire and its aftermath as a preview for her fans. In one shot, she showed her burned out home in the background over which she wrote:

On August 9th, my house burned. 15 years of memories; 40 years of notebooks, drawings, thoughts, my life’s work…In the years that I lived here, I learned an awful lot. In the few weeks since it burned, I think I’ve learned even more. Today we’re going to share what’s left of our home.

In another IG, she showed a promo of the show that showed both footage of the house burning and what Rachael walked back into once the fire was put out. The videos and photos are heartbreaking, especially when you listen to Rachael’s description of what went through her mind when she ran upstairs to collect what she could, but realized it was too late when she heard the fire in the walls:

I ran upstairs to get medicine, my notebooks, my mother’s high school ring, you know – things – that when your house is burning down, you don’t want to leave. But when I ran to the top of the stairs, I could hear the fire in the wall. I could hear electricity, I could hear… danger. Because I am a part of the Denis Leary Firefighter Foundation and the first female on their board, I’ve been in enough fake control fires to know to be very scared of sounds and fire itself. So I immediately turned, to run out and there was a Hadley Reserve firefighter standing literally next to me, “Get out! Get out!” I’m like, “I’m trying! I’m trying!” (laughing) yelling at each other. And he said, “Go! Go!” and we ran down the stairs and John was coming up the stairs as we were going down the stairs. And I said, “You can’t go, you can’t go in there. You can hear the fire in the walls.

[From YouTube]

Rachael showed a few clips of the fire consuming her home as she spoke, it’s really quite chilling. But, Rachael being who she is, she used her story as an opportunity to share fire safety tips with viewers by interviewing the fire investigator who let her back into her house the day following the fire. You’ll never be emotionally prepared to lose your home, but having some idea of how to react might save the lives of those in it.

As Rachael mentioned in the first clip, she is on the board of Denis Leary’s foundation and had him on as a guest for the show as well. Immediately after the fire Denis helped Rachael and John prepare for what they would experience when they returned to the scene. During Monday’s show, Denis, John and Rachel used the segment as an opportunity to educate viewers on how firefighters were impacted by the pandemic and it’s economic fallout. For instance, Denis mentioned that safety bubbles mean crews are not switching out with other crews. With the wildfires currently raging on the west coast, I can’t imagine what that means for those battling the blazes. Denis and Rachael also discussed how the shortage of PPE for all critical workers means firefighters were ill-equipped with masks and shields to prevent fatal smoke inhalation. You can donate to The Leary Firefighters Foundation here.

I’ve linked the clips but I’m not embedding them because quite honestly, I’m worried about them triggering someone. Losing your home and memories to a fire, I’ve heard, is one of the greatest traumas a person can endure. I had an experience in my youth that left me permanently scared of uncontained fires (I’m okay with fires in fireplaces or fire pits, but I never take my eyes off them) and that was just having to evacuate our home, but it was saved in the end. I cannot imagine what someone who actually lost their home has been through. Unfortunately, I am one step closer to understanding this year as my uncle and aunt lost their home in one of the recent Santa Cruz fires. I’ve stayed with them countless times, so I knew exactly what is gone and watching the video my cousin sent of the charred, smoldering remains left me choked on emotion. My uncle and aunt must now start over – and they are in their 80s.

As I mentioned, my state and our neighbors Oregon and Washington are being devastated by wildfires. The closest to me is 50 miles so my home is safe. However, our yard is covered in ash and we have to check the air quality every day to see if we can open our windows (thank goodness for masks right now!). The sky is permanently clouded over with the worst smog LA has had in 30 years and we live daily under a blood red sun and sepia-toned sky. All of that is eerie, but it’s more so a reminder that some folks are losing everything and are forced to find safe shelter in the middle of a pandemic. I feel terrible for Rachael and I am so glad no one was hurt. She said in one clip that they are fortunate because they have the means to rebuild, where others are not as lucky. Even so, Rachael lost a lifetime of memories, no amount of money can reclaim that.

For everyone affected by the current wildfires, my heart goes out to you. Anyone who wants to help, here are some resources.

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Photo credit: Rachael Ray Show Instagram

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13 Responses to “Rachael Ray shows the devastating fire damage to her home”

  1. Ravensdaughter says:

    Poor Rachel, seriously. What a heartbreaking loss.
    As for West Coast, the fires are a vivid warning: climate change is real, and it’s right on our doorstep. I live in Seattle and even though the fires are on the other side of the state, our air quality is poor. The ripple effect is real, too.
    So much death and destruction. So many people affected, especially in Oregon and California.
    We need that Green New Deal now.

    • Mina_Esq says:

      You must have missed yesterday’s news. Trump told us he knows more about science than science knows about itself, and that climate change is not a problem because it will “get cold” soon. We are all effed. As for Rachel…so devastating.

  2. Lucy2 says:

    I’m so sorry for Rachel and her family. That had to be devastating. It’s my worst nightmare and has been so since I was a kid.
    Thank you for including the links to help those affected by the fires.

  3. Also Ali says:

    This was really nicely written and heartfelt. It’s very eerie outside right now just like you described. It’s starting to get to me, all of the devastation and the lack of compassion of so many people. I’m impressed with her resilience and ability to pivot to the positive so quickly. Me, I want to sob and it wasn’t my house or memories.

  4. AdknyKate says:

    I live close to where Rachel Ray’s Lake Luzerne, NY home is located. I also worked for a local audio/video company that installed all the equipment in their home and had the opportunity to visit the home with some of the techs as we were installing the equipment and was amazed at how beautiful the home was. It really was an Adirondack home and had features I have never seen in a home before. What a loss for Rachel and her husband. I can’t imagine losing all your memories.

  5. Sarah says:

    I’ve never watched her on tv (I’m British) but I hope that opening up like this will help others either in how they think about fire/manage risk in their own homes and also in sharing the devastation that fire causes.

    When so many people are losing everything on a grand scale our brains can struggle to process it. I know their house was not burned by a wildfire but it’s really important that people support each other through this (and donate to the organisations that are trying to make things better), and recognise that climate change is not political and here to stay with more extreme weather events at the hot and cold ends of the spectrum unless we make significant changes to how we live.

  6. Finny says:

    I feel very sorry for Rachael and her family. It is hard to lose the items that are important to you, like photos, mementos, etc. I know what she is going through. We had a housefire in May. 85 % of our belongings were lost to smoke damage. All the things we collected over 28 years of marriage and were important to us are gone. Thankfully the structure was not damaged due to the swift response of our volunteer fire department, but the inside is a total gut job. I was numb while watching the fire department putting the fire out. It was like watching a movie for me until they brought one of our cats and the 2 foster kittens out that didn’t survive. That’s when I broke down. Our house looks totally normal on the outside and every time I drove up I expected just to walk into our normal house I loved.. then you open the door and it looked like a warzone. It took me almost 2 weeks before I could walk in and not break out in tears. I feel for all those people and the firefighters that are losing their homes in all those wildfires. My thoughts and prayers are with everybody fighting and dealing with the wildfires right now. Most people don’t appreciate what service FDs are providing for their community until they need them. Support them anyway you can!!!!!!

    • Vava says:

      Hugs to you, Finny. Unfortunately I can relate first-hand to your experience. We had a house fire Dec. 7, 2018. A day of infamy for us. Smoke damage is unbelievable, we lost most of our belongings too. Our two white Maine Coon kitties survived though, and I am forever grateful for that. To lose your pets like that, how devastating. So sorry for you. Right now we are trying to cope with these wildfires just outside of town and it’s bringing back all sorts of nightmares for me. These poor people – I hope they not only get emergency assistance they need, but also some mental health care too.

  7. Delphine says:

    Poor Rachel, how devastating. I agree about the sepia skies and blood orange sun. I’ve been depressed for over a week. The color of the light is just wrong and it feels uncanny and terrible. I was heartbroken to hear about the 13 year old boy who died in the fires trying to save his grandma and his dog. I couldn’t stop crying most of the day after reading that.

  8. Bella A A says:

    That looks horrific and I can only imagine how horrible it must be to see your house go up in flames. I am in SF and the air is better today.

  9. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    My cousin lives in Eugene, Oregon and sent us some pictures from her back patio. It just gives me the shivers. They have started loading up what they can just in case…
    I have been to Lake Luzerne many times when we lived in upstate NY. It’s so beautiful there. My heart goes out to Rachael and her husband.

  10. Lissdogmom02 says:

    Poor Rachel that’s so hard to lose all your mementos and precious treasures.
    I’m surrounded by fire here in Oregon & we aren’t allowed to go outside or open our windows. An entire town burnt down less than 20 miles from me I’m close to Eugene-everyone knows usually where that is in Oregon. It’s so scary & combined with the pandemic it’s just a lot. On top of that my job is slowed in half as we are canceling patients non-emergency surgeries, understandably, however that’s my job so its’s more fun than I thought I was going to have. I’m focusing on my my blessings. I have a place to live etc. 2020 is such a bizarre year.

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