Woolsey Fire Claims One More Victim

Debbie Purucker

Debbie Lynn Marie Robinson Purucker, a dedicated community member and mother of four, died on Dec. 17, after a five-week battle with the effects of the Woolsey Fire.

A longtime resident of Malibu, she was the wife of John Purucker, and mother of Justin, Christopher, Caitlyn and Emily. Debbie was involved with Trancas Riders and Ropers and worked on the trails committee for the City of Malibu, for which she received an award from the city. She was always involved in community activities. Born on March 8, 1963, she spent time in Malibu in her youth and teen years and graduated from Santa Monica High School before attending Pierce College. 

She and John lived on Wandermere Road in Point Dume for 30 years together, raising four children in a hand-built home on a property shared with the home of John’s parents, Fred and Mary Purucker.

On Nov. 9, during the Woolsey Fire, she and her husband stayed at their home in an attempt to protect it from the fast moving flames. 

“We evacuated when they told us to, and John and our grandson Chris had … two old airstream trailers that they got ready and we got in those,” Mary Purucker described in a phone interview with The Malibu Times. “And Debbie drove one of the trailers, and we went down to the beach—to Zuma Beach—and she was all right then, except they went back to try and save their house. 

“John was up on the roof with a hose trying to put [flames] out and she looked up and saw the fire coming up over the hill, very fast. She yelled to him to get down, and he no sooner got down than the house just exploded into flames,” Mary said. “They ran up the driveway, which was kind of a steep driveway—and they ran, I’d say, for their lives, to get out of there, and I don’t think that did her any good. There was smoke and ashes at Zuma Beach, too.”

Then, family members said, she began to show signs of serious health issues.

“Not long after, John had to take her to the hospital with respiratory problems from smoke inhalation,” information from the family stated. “After more than five weeks in the hospital, she passed away peacefully with her family around her.” 

According to Mary, both homes on Wandermere were lost in the fire.

“We lost our house; they lost their house,” she said. “Theirs was a guest house at the bottom of our property, where they lived for more than 30 years, and raised four children there. And John grew up on Wandermere—we lived in that house for 51 years. He was six years old when we moved in there.”

She is survived by her husband, John; her son Justin and his wife Kelsey; her son Christopher and his wife, Samantha; and her twin daughters, Caitlyn and Emily. She is also survived by her parents, Kathleen and Gene Robinson; and her sisters Tammy Gunther, Nicole Robinson, Lisa Chavez and her father-in-law and mother-in-law, Fred and Mary Purucker, as well as many nieces and nephews. 

A private burial is scheduled at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village on Jan. 10. In lieu of flowers, the family asked loved ones to please make a donation to their favorite charity.