11-16-08 7:18 PM The sky above the Dawirs' house. Photo: Taylor Dawirs
Corona/Yorba Linda/Anaheim Hills (Triangle Complex Fire)
Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008 11:10 AM
I got an email from Doug and Marion that they were evacuated last night at 8 PM from their home in Yorba Linda. I managed to get a hold of them to ask
them first hand about the fires and about their evacuation.
This is a phone interview the morning after they are evacuated from their home.
Hello Doug, Marion. Where are you now?
We are at the Residence Inn in Anaheim Hills.
When and how were you evacuated?
Doug: Last night at 8 PM. The police cars came up the street and told everyone to get out within 15 minutes, then they went door to door.
Did you prepare for the evacuation?
Marion: My father had a fire in his house last week, so I know that you don't have to pack anything the insurance company will replace. Items such as clothes and furniture can be replaced. I started at 11 AM on Saturday to pack, I took the photos, important papers, and our Christmas ornaments, which are irreplaceable.
Doug: I had hiked up the hill earlier in the day to check on the fires and I knew that we needed to prepare, we had fires on three sides.
Did you take photos of your house and the contents before you left?
Marion: We went around and opened up all the closets and shot photos with our cell phones, pictures of the contents of the closets, cabinets and garage.
Have you seen your house? Do you know where the fire is?
Doug: From the news we know that the fire crews are north of our house. Our street is still closed up, so our daughter hiked up a horse trail and saw the house and it's still standing.
What were you feeling when you drove away from your home last night?
Marion: Horrible, even though from 11AM, I had been gathering and packing, when you are told you have 15 minutes to leave, you bounce around looking around your house looking for items to grab. It's a hopeless feeling. Your entire history is left up there. Your children's history. Our daughters have Hope Chests, and they are still up there because we couldn't lift them. Things that were important to them, that they had packed so carefully.
Doug: Surreal because of the wind pattern, we didn't experience any smoke or the smell of smoke. It was like Dante's Inferno, with the ash and people driving willy nilly to get out of the fire. A little bit of shock and then the inevitable traffic jam because there is only one road leading out of our area, and that was backed up causing a bit of panic. Really didn't feel any sense of loss yet, because I feel confident that the fire fighters will stop it before it gets to our house. We did a lot of brush clearance. That helps, but you never know because of the wind and the flames what will burn and what won't.
Was there a community effort to get people out?
Doug: People would've packed sooner if they had seen the progression of the fire. They were looking at the Carbon Canyon fire and not at the fire on the other side. I didn't see many people pack, it was really the last few minutes that we saw people pack. And by then it was too late to help anyone out. I learned that once you are out you can't get back in because once they lay the fire hoses down you cannot drive over them and you have to abandon your car.
Marion: During the afternoon I had a few neighbors looking at me packing, and we told them that we were packing as a precaution, because we were hemmed in by three fires. When the police were knocking on doors, most people just left without any possessions.
We prepare for earthquakes, should we also have a fire preparedness drill?
Doug: I feel strongly that there should be a community status website, like a webcam pointing at the fires, so that you can check online.
Marion: Earthquake preparedness is more about stockpiling, and getting quickly into a safe place; we should also have fire preparedness because we need to know what to take with you; medicines, important papers, knowing you should put all in one place so that you can grab it quickly. A fire is about fleeing at the last minute.
Do you know when you can go home?
Doug: The hotline is constantly busy, so we are in limbo now.
I will check in on Doug and Marion and will post a follow-up.
Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008 5:10pm
Doug and Marion are back home, safe and sound with their house intact.
Monday, Nov. 17, 2008 9:24 AM
Doug: We're a little shell-shocked. Ash and smoke still everywhere. Neighbors trickling back to their homes. Marion apprehensive that hots spot around us could get things going again. But, it's still nice to be home... and have a home to be in.
Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008 12:32 PM
After surveying their home and the surrounding area, the Dawirs found no damage to their home, just the smell of smoke and a thick layer of ash. Their insurance company covered their incidental living expenses, which amounted to one night at a hotel and meals.
The Dawirs' insurance company was concerned about soot and ash damage. Ash and soot will cover the exterior and interior of a home, causing damage to family heirlooms, art, furniture and other irreplaceable possessions. Removing the soot is a job that needs a gentle hand or professional help. FEMA explains the process and how to get help with the clean up from a fire here.
11-16-08 This is the hill behind the Dawir family's house.
11-16-08 The sky above the Dawirs' house.
11-15-08 The images below were shot on Saturday from the Dawirs' house.
Photos: Doug Dawirs / taken with an iPhone