Widow of Peanuts creator loses home in California fire

Peanuts creator Charles Schulz's widow flees Santa Rosa fire, home destroyed

The deadly Northern California fires - which have been raging out of control since Sunday, claiming 31 lives - have burned down the Santa Rosa home of late cartoonist Charles Schulz, creator of the beloved comic strip Peanuts.

Schulz's widow, Jean, 78, escaped from the hillside home in Santa Rosa about 2 a.m. Monday before it was engulfed in flames, her stepson Monte Schulz said. "She is energetic and pragmatic and very tough".

But the loss of the house itself is painful, Monte Schulz said.

The world's largest collection of Schulz's artwork, the "Peanuts" comic strips and other memorabilia is now safe at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa. The museum, which houses most of the original "Peanuts" art and much memorabilia, announced Thursday that it will close until further notice because of a lack of power, while also noting that the building was spared from damage.

"But he had a study with a drawing table if he wanted to do anything", at the house, Schulz said.

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The fire affected other members of the Schulz family, the Mercury News reported.

One of his sons, Craig Schulz, also lost his home in the Santa Rosa fires - one of almost 3,000 homes destroyed in the city.

"It's heartbreaking to lose the place where I lived with Sparky", said Schulz, part owner of Sonoma Media Investments, the parent company of The Press Democrat. The airport in Santa Rosa Airport is officially titled the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport and features bronze sculptures of the Peanuts characters. Downtown Santa Rosa, the home of several statues, was unaffected by the fire. It soon grew into arguably the most popular comic strip in history, running in more than 2,500 newspapers and reaching millions of readers worldwide.

"It's sad. It's erased", Monte Schulz said of the house. He and his first wife, Joyce, built a home in the city of Sebastopol in 1958. He was 77 when he died of cancer on February 12, 2000, at home.

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