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‘It Was a Good Life Experience,’ Says Survivor of 2007 Witch Creek Fire

Monster blaze destroyed about 360 homes in Rancho Bernardo and 90 in Poway five years ago.

Five years after the Witch Creek fire destroyed about 360 homes in Rancho Bernardo, neighbors on Aguacate Way have shared their feelings of luck and rebirth, according to a report in U-T San Diego.

“How did my house not burn down?” Jacey Humes was quoted as saying.

The paper says two neighbors ignored orders to evacuate and hosed the Humes house until firefighters arrived.

“Except for one house down the street stalled in its reconstruction, surrounded by a chain-link fence and still unoccupied, the neighborhood seems back to normal, if a little hodgepodge in appearance,” said the report by award-winning U-T features writer John Wilkens.

Wilkens quoted Dudley Johnson, a retired Navy chaplain who rebuilt his home: “It was a good life experience. You learn that everything is temporary. There is nothing in this reality we live in that is permanent.”

According to the Pomerado News, all but about 20 homes destroyed in Rancho Bernardo have been rebuilt and 55 of the 90 homes lost in Poway have been rebuilt or are in the rebuilding process.

The online site quoted Valerie Brown, RB United coordinator, as saying many yet-to-rebuild homeowners were underinsured and some are still in litigation with SDG&E.

“The Witch Creek fire started at 12:35 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, 2007, near Santa Ysabel,” the Pomerado News summarized. “It burned 197,990 acres, largely due to strong Santa Ana winds exceeding 100 miles per hour quickly moving flames across the rural area and into the urban communities. Fire officials said flames were often 80 to 100 feet high.”

What are your thoughts on the fifth anniversary of the fire?  Are your life and home back to normal? Share in the comments.

Nancy Canfield October 21, 2012 at 02:03 PM
My family evacuated from Westwood for 3 days, with twin 6 mos. old grandbabies. everyone there, both from the stadium to the zillions of volunteers, treated us the way I wish for everyone in every disaster. When we did not know the fate of our home, I knew we would be fine because of the love and care that waited for us back in RB. I was right. After a quick glance at the soot in our house, I joined the masses down at the Community Center. Brian Mainschim was at the helm, with a legion of volunteers, many of whom had suffered through their own fires in Scripps, in 2003. With them were hundreds of police, firefighters, neighbors, offering to help the 1,000 or so who needed it. I was so moved by all I saw and experienced, i submitted the story to Chicken Soup for the Soul, Count Your Blessings, and they published it. Valerie Brown and Marla Cruz are among those who still lead RB United today,and never stopped helping those who suffered loss, and continues today. A testament to a wonderful community, full of wonderful people, God Bless them every one!

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