Published 4:42 PM EDT Sep 14, 2020
A month after a fire ripped through Rachael Ray’s upstate New York home, the celebrity chef is opening up about the devastation, which destroyed nearly all of her belongings, including cooking notebooks, photo albums and her dream kitchen.
Ray shared new photos Monday of her home in ruins ahead of the debut of a “very unusual” season 15 premiere of the “Rachael Ray” show, during which she explained how the fire started.
“On August 9th, my house burned. 15 years of memories; 40 years of notebooks, drawings, thoughts, my life’s work,” Ray said at the top of her show Monday. “It took about one hour for this house to come down – and in my mind it took decades before it was even built. 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 with you.”
The fire began in the chimney, Ray said, noting it had been cleaned twice a year. She had prepared a fire in the fireplace ahead of dinner with her husband John Cusimano. Before they sat down, a man began screaming in their backyard, she recalled.
“A person was going through our backyard on an ATV and was kind enough to come down the hill and say, ‘Your roof’s on fire.’ Literally screaming it in our backyard,” Ray said. “We went outside (and) sure enough, that was the case.”
The man told Ray and Cusimano that he had called the fire department. Ray “immediately” ran upstairs to get “precious things”: “medicines, photographs, notebooks.
“I heard the fire in the walls,” she said. “It was blood-curdling and chilling from head to toe. I turn to leave and there was a first responder right in front of me, (saying), ‘Get out, get out now. You have to go.'”
She added: “I went to get the dog, and that was it. We left our house.”
Cusimano joined Ray on the show Monday.
“The night that the fire happened, we literally were just watching our house burn and burn and burn,” he said. “It wouldn’t stop. You’re just thinking, ‘Oh God, what’s going to be left?’ Then we went up there the next day… and there’s devastation everywhere. We were like, ‘Oh my God, there’s no house left.'”
Ray and her family are currently staying in their guest house across the street, where she’s filming her show. The house will need to be bulldozed and rebuilt over the course of about a year, she explained.
“Thank you to all our first responders, viewers + friends for their unending support,” Ray added in a tweet Monday. “We are very grateful and mindful of how fortunate we are in many ways.”
Previously: Rachael Ray ‘grateful for what we have’ after fire rips through her home
Firefighters rushed to Ray’s Lake Luzerne, N.Y. home on Chuckwagon Trail, about an hour north of Albany, at around 8 p.m. on Aug. 9 to battle the fire.
During a tour of the house earlier this year, Ray said she designed the home and had “worked 35 years” to get the gas stove and pizza oven of her dreams. The open kitchen features a large kitchen block and “The Avenger,” a commercial dishwasher.
Ray, who has owned the house since 2013, had been filming episodes of the “Rachael Ray Show” in the home kitchen during the COVID-19 pandemic, preparing food alongside her husband (and an at-home camera man).
Contributing: Bryan Alexander, Jon Campbell
More: Rachael Ray reflects on losses after officials determine house fire started in chimney