Preloading

What Pico Iyer Realized After a Fire Destroyed Everything He Had

Season 6 Episode 606
Aired on 03/08/2015 | CC tv-14
In 1990, author and travel writer Pico Iyer lost everything he had—and nearly his life—when one of the worst man-made fires in California history swept through the hills of Santa Barbara. "I always had that sense that home was not where I lived but what lived inside me," he says. "When our house burned down in the forest fire, that became literal."

Pico and his family were stuck for two hours on a mountain road watching as the Painted Cave fire reduced the home to ash. The only thing he had was a toothbrush he bought from an all-night supermarket after the fire. Pico says the experience was a lesson in what people really need to survive. "When it came to replacing the things that we had lost, of course I realized there wasn't that much I really needed," he says. "All the most important things—memories, photographs—they were gone. Couldn't hold on to those. All the things that I needed for day-to-day life weren't much more enormous than a toothbrush and a few clothes and certain necessities."

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