Wildfire Victim in Dayton Struggles to Rebuild Home - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Wildfire Victim in Dayton Struggles to Rebuild Home

DAYTON, Wash.- Almost nine months after wildfire destroyed his home, a Dayton man is still battling the Sate to rebuild.

It all relates back to a lease agreement he had with the state.

The lease allowed him to have his home on the land without actually owning it, and when the home burned down in the Columbia Complex fire, the State told him he couldn't rebuild unless he bought the property.

The fire hit Lester Eaton III's family the hardest.  His farm survived, but his home didn't.

Eaton owns the home, but not the land it stands on, he leases that from the State, and since the house burned, the State now says he needs to buy the land at a public auction to rebuild.

A public auction doesn't guarantee the Eatons will buy the property though.  If they get outbid, they'll lose the house, and part of their farm, and if they win, it'll take another year before they can start construction.

To Eaton, it seems like common sense to just let him rebuild what was there for so long, but for the state it's not that simple.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources says state law requires the property go to auction. 

Lester Eaton just wants to rebuild his home, and in doing so, his life.

He says he'll keep on fighting as long as it takes because he's "not going to be a quitter."

The Eatons still have to pay about $7,500 to get the property to auction and even if they are able to buy the property at auction, they still won't be able to rebuild until next summer, almost two-years after it burnt.

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