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Pristine_Condition
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:10 AM)
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There had to be something keeping me away from WrassleGAF, and College Football GAF... Well, this is what it was:


A view of the fire from Austin.

When the fire broke out, I was lounging on my couch, laptop on my belly, reading GAF. The power in my house flickered a bit, then went out. I didn't think much of it, because it was very windy outside from the tropical storm that blew in, but sadly didn't leave the rain it promised my drought-stricken state, and I thought, "Oh, some power lines may have touched somewhere and kicked off a transformer."

When the power didn't return, I called the power company. The message on the machine said "No power outages have been reported in your neighborhood." I hung on to the phone for like 30 minutes, waiting to leave a message, or get through to customer service, but the opportunity never came. I thought "fucking Labor Day Weekend..."

A little while later, I decided to go out and get some fresh air, because the house was stating to get stuffy from the lack of AC. That's when I saw a huge cloud of smoke, drifting over the sky just to the south. I knew that was bad. I live in the middle of an area of Texas called The Lost Pines, a strip of giant Loblolly pines that really don't seem to belong in that area of Texas, hence the name. Well, drought conditions, living in a forest, smoke...that's a bad combo.

I never received an evacuation order. There was nothing on Austin's fabulously terrible "news" stations on the radio. I had no idea what to do, or where to go. I had only been living in the area a little over a year. I did know my parents, who are retired and live nearby, and I were going to probably have to make a decision quickly.

The winds from that tropical storm that never gave us rain was producing 40MPH winds.

A huge problem loomed when I drove down to the end of the one road that connected our neighborhood to the highway. The only road out. My heart sank. There was fire down there. On both sides of the road. Big fire. Smoke you could never see through. There was no way to know if there were trees fallen in the road or what.

So when I got to my parents the questions were obvious...do we leave? And where do we leave to? I have two parents in their 70s. My mom has a bad knee. She's not going to be able to run, if the road is blocked. She's not going to be able to hike out of the forest toward the lake with no trail, either.

But after a while, with the fire getting bigger, and the smoke staring to blow from behind us now, from the north, it became clear that we had to leave and we had to take our chances with the road.

In hindsight, we did so many things wrong. We grabbed so little of what we should have grabbed. Things that can't be replaced...things the insurance companies won't be paying off. We grabbed so very little, I think, because we were refusing to believe it would all be gone. We were wrong.

I got in my car, and my Dad and Mom got in their truck, and we headed out. Toward the raging fire.

I sped ahead, since I figured if something happened, if there was a burning tree blocking the road, I might be able to ditch the car and run back before my parent's got there. Luckily, the road was clear, except for smoke, which often meant actually driving completely blind.

Driving through that was surreal. Like something out of Backdraft. When you could see, it was horrifying, when you were totally surrounded by the thickest smoke, and flying blind, it was just like diving into a muddy lake, except occasionally, the whole panorama in front of the windshield would turn bright yellow or orange. At some point, a drove through what must've been the hottest part of the fire, a vortex of air that pushed the car from side to side violently before I escaped it.

Soon enough afterwards, I reached the end of the road, and the highway. Even that was all on fire, as the fire had already jumped the but at least I could see, and go fast. It's a four-lane, scenic highway, with a median in the middle where more pines grow. All the trees were on fire.

The median is protected by a guardrail made of stubby timbers that the railing is attached to. All the timbers that hold up the guardrails were on fire, so the guardrails were rails of licking flames. I'm kind of ashamed to say that just for a moment, I allowed myself time to say to my self "that was cool" as I sped down the road to safety.

When my parents hooked back up with me down the road, we looked back and got an idea of the scope of the fire. We knew a lot of lives would be changed forever. We just hoped we would be spared.

We drove to Austin to stay with family. Over the course of the first day, no real information was getting out. We finally managed to register with the county so they could give us information, but information really never came. The fire was too much, and we were not alone. Six other fires had popped up in other surrounding areas, including north of Austin. There weren't enough firefighters, and the winds made getting in front of the fires too dangerous.

After two days of nothing, my Dad and I formulated a plan to sneak into our neighborhood using the paths cut into the forest for high tension electrical transmission lines. We just had to find out what had happened to our homes. As we hiked, we prepared for the worst...



As we walked further, the ground became white from all the ash, and metal buildings lay crumpled like linens on the ground



This is what was left of my house...



It was still on fire in places.



There's nothing left to even pick through. It's all gone.

My parents' little retirement dream home looks exactly the same. Totaled. Worse than losing my own home, all my stuff, my photo gear for my business, my portfolio and all the originals...knowing that I was going to have to call and tell my mom the news, and show her the pictures, was the worst feeling I've ever had in my life.

But somehow, in the middle of all that destruction, there was a tiny patch of green, in the vegetable garden:



And all twelve of my ducks.

I have no idea how they survived. they had that one bucket of water there, and this child's swimming pool:



...which the ducks liked to use to take turns and have dips in to keep cool this summer. Somehow, it held water still, and I have a feeling it played a big part in their survival.

The ducks are not out of the woods yet (quite literally) we had to leave them there, so I hope no predators find them until we can return. We did manage to find some neighbors who were not burned out who let us have some foods to leave for them to feed, and a case of fresh water we left for them in their black bucket. I hope to return tomorrow to get them out of there. They are all any of us have left, so I figure it's a sign that I should take care of them... Yep. Lucky ducks. These guys are so lucky, they'll never be on my dinner plate.

...


Anyway, there's probably going to be about 1000 other people that will have lost their homes in the fires in Texas. It sucks, but at least we're alive.









Oh, and one more thing. I did the Google search for "Texas Fire" before I posted this, to see if this was a topic yet. And I came across this.

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=209405

That was the last thing I needed to see. Fuck you, krypt0nian.
Last edited by Pristine_Condition; 09-08-2011 at 08:18 AM.
remnant
Banned
(09-08-2011, 08:13 AM)
Wow, sorry to hear about this. The coverage that fire is getting compared to the national panic that was Hurricane Irene is laughable.

And yeah GAf's Texas hate is annoying and fucking stupid. Hopefully they will lay off in this thread.
SteveWinwood
Sowing his wild patented oats
(09-08-2011, 08:13 AM)
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That's terrible, my condolences. But you are lucky no one was hurt. And even your ducks! Focus on that.

But just put your energy into rebuilding and you'll be back to where you were before you know it.
jaxword
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:14 AM)
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That's terrible, I hope you guys are economically stable enough to rebuild and recover.


Also, take it easy on Kryptonian, that post was FOUR Years ago. How would he have possibly known?
MrGame&Watch
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:15 AM)
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Damn. Climate Change sucks and really is affecting people.
gray_fox224
Junior Member
(09-08-2011, 08:15 AM)
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Oh my god. I'm so sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family.
MThanded
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:16 AM)
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:-(
Qwomo
Junior Member
(09-08-2011, 08:16 AM)
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Aww ducks. Sorry to hear you lost all that shit, I can't even imagine what it'd be like for that to happen.

The kryptonian thread made me laugh though.
Mineshaft_Gap
4077th
(09-08-2011, 08:16 AM)
Fuuuuuuck. :( So sorry to hear about that.

Got a paypal account?

Perhaps us GAFers can do something good for one of our own (and his ducks).
Seraphis Cain
bad gameplay lol
(09-08-2011, 08:17 AM)
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Wow, I really can't even begin to imagine how you're feeling right now. I really hope you and your parents recover from this.
Count Dookkake
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:17 AM)
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I am sorry for your family's terrible losses.

However, that duck pic is amazing.
J-Rzez
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:18 AM)
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Wow. I'm sorry. I hope you have as speedy as possible recovery from this ordeal, and at least you have your life yet. You can always rebuild in time.
Zaptruder
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:19 AM)
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You kinda just have to force yourself to see the upside of things like this - if you don't, you just go crazy thinking about how random and futile it all is.

I mean, at least it didn't set fire to your GAF account amirite?
Thoraxes
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:19 AM)
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Wow, this is crazy.
One of my friends was looking to move down there with his family next month, but I don't see that happening in the near future now.
Jintor
Lit himself on fire to get
a mod to tag him
(09-08-2011, 08:19 AM)
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I'm glad you and your folks (and your ducks) are okay. I can't imagine losing my house, or my stuff, especially my original works and so on... but at least you're alive and kicking, man.

Good luck for the future.
AbsoluteZero
Banned
(09-08-2011, 08:20 AM)
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Fuck, that's terrible. While I haven't had to run from fires I've had to run from my fair share of hurricanes, and while I didn't ever have to make decisions within 10 minutes, the sense of "Oh god what do I take in case my house isn't still here when I return?" is strong all the same.
funkmasterb
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:20 AM)
Holy shit man, I'm glad all your people are ok (and the ducks!)
besada
You can depend on cruelty, crudity of thought and sound. You can depend on the worst always happening; you need a busload of faith to get by.
(09-08-2011, 08:20 AM)
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So sorry to hear it, Pristine. I'm headed down Austin way tomorrow. If there's anything you need, even if it's just for me to buy you a drink, let me know. I lost a home to fire once, and it's awful.
TEJ
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:20 AM)
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I'm hoping and praying that the same thing doesn't happen to me :(. I wish you and your family well

Oh, and I knew that kryptonian was anti-texas.......I just didn't know he was such an asshole.
zoku88
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:21 AM)
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So like, what happens? Does insurance cover your entire house (and your parents retirement one?)

Does the gov't put you up somewhere?


And I'm not sure what you left behind, but it's probably of little relative value compared to your lives. I think, most likely, you made the right choice by not trying to grab everything you think, in hindsight, is of importance.
Yagharek
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:22 AM)
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Man, you did damn near everything wrong on paper, so to have survived you are very lucky and glad you and your family didnt die. When there were major bushfires in Victoria (Australia) a couple of years ago, heaps of people were found dead in vehicles trying to flee. Some had run into cars that were abandoned too, so no telling what happened.

The photo of your ducks though is beautiful. Nice to know they survived too, somehow.

Good luck with rebuilding, and hopefully if it ever happens again you are better prepared and informed (seriously, it's disgusting there was so little information from emergency services in your area, by the sounds of it).

We've always understood that if youre in a farming area, and its a grass/wildfire, the best thing to do is get to a burnt out paddock thats already been completely burned away. But obviously getting there and other factors to consider might not be relevant to everyone.

Good luck with rebuilding, hope you dont get the runaround from insurance companies.
cutmeamango
Banned
(09-08-2011, 08:22 AM)
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So sad to see the aftermath pics, but gladly you and your family are okay. And Chinner & friends. Hope you all recover fast from this terrible event.

By the way, does the government help recouping the losses from a wildfire?
Vincent Alexander
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:22 AM)
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Anything we can do to help? Clothes? Shoes? Coats? I know it's all small compared to those things that can't be replaced, but if you need anything, just holler. I'm sure a lot of us here on Gaf, myself included, can find things to spare.
remnant
Banned
(09-08-2011, 08:22 AM)

Originally Posted by MrGame&Watch

Damn. Climate Change sucks and really is affecting people.

People are really blaming this on climate change?
Gaspode_T
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:22 AM)
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Thanks for sharing your story. Don't beat yourself up over not grabbing anything, it's the right thing to do in that situation!

People don't know how traumatic this stuff can be, I would get professional counseling after things have calmed down.
(._.)
Banned
(09-08-2011, 08:23 AM)
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Damn, man sorry. Really nice though that your ducks lived through all that fire around them.
Jamesfrom818
Banned
(09-08-2011, 08:24 AM)
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An old coworker moved out to Texas a couple years ago. Her house burned down in the first month she and her husband were there.
legend166
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:24 AM)
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That really sucks man. Sorry to hear it.
TheKaeptain
Banned
(09-08-2011, 08:25 AM)
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Holy shit. That is horrible.
Four_Chamber
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:27 AM)
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North Texas GAF sends its condolences down to central Texas

I'm not kidding when I say that I smelled smoke in the air this morning up here in Dallas. This is surreal :(
InfectedZero
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:27 AM)
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I'm so sorry :(.

EDIT: San Antonio gaf here
Jintor
Lit himself on fire to get
a mod to tag him
(09-08-2011, 08:28 AM)
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Did the State Gov seriously not issue alerts and stuff though?
HarryDemeanor
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:31 AM)
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That's terrible. I'm glad to hear you and your family are safe (and the ducks of course.) I hope you guys are able to recover from this.
xelios
Universal Access can be found under System Preferences
(09-08-2011, 08:31 AM)
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Sorry to hear about your losses. Glad to hear everyone is safe though (and the ducks too). I hope everything else works out for you and your family without much trouble, as far as insurance etc. goes.

My sister and her family live in Smithville and they evacuated, but fortunately their home and business were spared.
Ploid 3.0
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:32 AM)
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Oh man, sorry to hear. Fires take pretty much everything because of the panic to try to grab important sentimental stuff while your mind is running at 200mph. Pictures are one of the important ones, important documents is another. It's an impossible situation.

I'm glad you made it through that terrible escape. Just reading you describe it was difficult.

I have a lot of family in Texas.
GaimeGuy
Volunteer Deputy Campaign Director, Obama for America '16
(09-08-2011, 08:36 AM)
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I don't understand. From the content of your post, it sounds like there was absolutely no emergency services in your area, from disseminating information to responding to crises. It just sounds so unfathomable to me living here in Minnesota. You almost died because of a lack of emergency services, and I would think a state like Texas would have top notch services in the country considering all the weather hazards they're prone to.

I am sorry for your loss, and that society has failed you. Have you thought of getting in touch with your local state representative/senator about this? It sounds like lives are definitely in danger due to inadequate emergency services.
alphaNoid
Banned
(09-08-2011, 08:37 AM)
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OP, I lost my entire house in the Freeway fire of 08 in Southern California.. I lost everything, I was only able to get out with a console, an LCD, a computer and 1 hamper of clothing. Everything else, all my childhood trophies, yearbooks, worldly possessions I had collected were burned to the ground, never to be seen again. Excluding the property I lost well over $60,000 in belongings.. a lifetime of memories, ash.

I had to start my life over 100%, and I did it. You can too, PM me if you have questions or need some support. <3
GillianSeed79
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:37 AM)
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My condolences.
Suikoguy
I whinny my fervor lowly, for his length is not as great as those of the Hylian war stallions
(09-08-2011, 08:37 AM)
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We came within minutes of losing our house during Hurricane Charley, but I still can't imagine losing it all. The storm did take my High School and Grandma's House where I spent a good time of my childhood.

Did you have most of your photos digitized and backed up online somewhere?
Edit: That's the number one thing I can suggest people do now, before a disaster.

Originally Posted by GaimeGuy

I don't understand. From the content of your post, it sounds like there was absolutely no emergency services in your area, from disseminating information to responding to crises. It just sounds so unfathomable to me living here in Minnesota. You almost died because of a lack of emergency services, and I would think a state like Texas would have top notch services in the country considering all the weather hazards they're prone to.

I am sorry for your loss, and that society has failed you. Have you thought of getting in touch with your local state representative/senator about this? It sounds like lives are definitely in danger due to inadequate emergency services.

It would be an interesting conversation to have, but I think it should go on in the Poligaf thread, and not here.
jaxword
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:38 AM)
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Originally Posted by alphaNoid

OP, I lost my entire house in the Freeway fire of 08 in Southern California.. I lost everything, I was only able to get out with a console, an LCD, a computer and 1 hamper of clothing. Everything else, all my childhood trophies, yearbooks, worldly possessions I had collected were burned to the ground, never to be seen again.

I had to start my life over 100%, and I did it. You can too, PM me if you have questions or need some support. <3

I'd like to hear this story too. My family suffered a loss 10 years ago in a flood, but it wasn't remotely as bad as your case. It was mainly all our entertainment material in the basement that vanished, we slept upstairs.
exarkun
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:38 AM)
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Originally Posted by Jintor

Did the State Gov seriously not issue alerts and stuff though?

Our Gov. is too busy running for president.

Sorry about your loss pristine, you lost a lot. Texas gaf here, if you need anything just message. Ill be down in Austin next week. Good luck man, I always thought you lived in North Texas.
Flo
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:40 AM)
So sorry for all those terrible losses :( Don't really know what to say, I hope things work out insurance wise, especially for your parents. But I have no idea how that works in the US. Is there any chance they'll be able to build or buy a house like that again?
texasairhead101
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:44 AM)
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My thoughts go to you and your family in these times. Very happy to hear your family and animals are safe. thank you for sharing your story. I couldn't imagine losing everything like that. Please keep this thread updated with any details that might allow for fellow gaffers to help in any way.

-from willis, tx here myself
Amagon
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:50 AM)
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Sorry for your lost dude. :(
If you have a paypal account, I'll gladly donate a few bucks to you brother. Hope everything works out for you and your family.
Pristine_Condition
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:51 AM)
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Thanks to everyone for the kind words.

Besada, I'd love to take you up on that drink, but I'm going to have to take a raincheck. Too busy for now, as I'm sure you understand. I would love to get together sometime and talk about it with someone who's been there. I don't think any of my friends have any clue what to say. I can't blame them.

Originally Posted by zoku88

So like, what happens? Does insurance cover your entire house (and your parents retirement one?)

My parents are covered better than I am. I'll never get the value I had for my possessions.

But they'll never get the lifetime of history that was lost back. Everything they wanted to leave to us. The heirlooms and sentimental stuff.

I've got some of that too. The only thing I wanted when my grandfather passed away were his fancy hats that he used to wear to church. That's all I had left of him. I had all the little things from my travels, all my work from college, and when I used to be a young photo assistant and used to travel the world on exciting fashion shoots, my work from the Santa Fe workshops, ect. Goofy stuff from friends, ect.

It's losing those kinds of things that really crush you.

I'm a geek, so I had lots of geek shit...You know, the TV, the games system, way too many CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, Video Games, the sound system...all the shit you've gotta have.

Plus, how am I going to try explaining to an insurance adjuster that I had a comic book collection focussing on B&W indies? An insurance guy isn't going to understand what a complete 1-300 Cerebus collection with all the ancillary stuff and a few pieces of original art are worth, or a complete collection of first print Bone comics, or Love and Rockets, or Bacchus or Strangehaven, ect. ect. ect. Hell, I don't even know what all that stuff is worth, and I can't even prove what I owned, so why bother?

And to top it off, I'm a professional photographer. So all my gear, except the one camera bag I put in the car to take pictures, all my lighting gear, my stands and scrims, my computer workstation and all that crap...my fucking physical portfolios. Basically, that's where I'm boned the worst. I'm pretty much out of business now. Can't get a job without a portfolio. Even if I had a job, I'd have to rent everything to shoot it.

Well, at least I get to streamline...

Originally Posted by zoku88

Does the gov't put you up somewhere?

There are shelters right now, and FEMA is supposed to be on the ground today, so I guess they'll be setting up something. I do have places to stay, as do my parents, with friends and family, and people from church, so I'm very blessed. I cannot imagine having kids to look after like so many of the families here, and no one around to stay with.

When I think of that, and the fact that my story is being repeated more than 1000 times, and worse for a lot of people, it makes me feel totally selfish for being pissed about the stuff I lost.


Originally Posted by zoku88

And I'm not sure what you left behind, but it's probably of little relative value compared to your lives. I think, most likely, you made the right choice by not trying to grab everything you think, in hindsight, is of importance.

Absolutely. I fucked a lot of stuff up in that situation, but I did make one right choice. And I'm going to try hard not to complain.
keyboardcat
Member
(09-08-2011, 08:52 AM)
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shit, don't know what to say to that, glad you and the family and your ducks made it out alive, so sorry for all the stuff you've lost.

sounds completely surreal to me.
alphaNoid
Banned
(09-08-2011, 08:53 AM)
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Originally Posted by jaxword

I'd like to hear this story too. My family suffered a loss 10 years ago in a flood, but it wasn't remotely as bad as your case. It was mainly all our entertainment material in the basement that vanished, we slept upstairs.

I don't want to derail so I'll bullet point..

1. Fires were raging all over SoCal this week, people were aware. However, this fire was one of the first and hit us first thing AM before any news stations were covering any of them.
2. Fire moved over 2 miles in less than 20 minutes.
3. Initially saw a small plume of smoke, honest to God .. thought nothing of it.. started packing up some minor stuff. No official warning, no sight of a single fire fighter the entire time. We got hit first.
4. While packing, watched as the news started to pick up a very small brush fire in our area... in the middle of nowhere.
5. 20 minutes later my (then) gf (now wife) let out a deathly scream that raised the hair on the back of my neck.
6. Fire was 15 feet from my front porch, 60 foot trees were engulfed, meaning 60 ft wall of flames. It was a firestorm, black ash and embers swirling like a tornado hitting everything, hard to breathe.
7. I'd like to think I'm a tough guy or can pretend to be... FEAR. Panic hit me like never before, fight or flight and I felt like I was minutes from death.
8. Ran inside, screamed at my roommate to run for his life and I ran out the door. Sent the gf off in her car and made my way to my car.
9. My car was less than 5 feet from the wall of flames... slow motion doesn't describe the feeling. Time nearly stopped as I ran for my car (there was no room in my gf's car it was packed with everything).
10. I make it, jam out of the complex.. alive.
11. Entire neighborhoods evacuating, took 1.5 hours to move 6 miles.
12. Get to my gf's parents house, they are not there. This is across the 91 FWY. Police knocking on doors evacuating. I grab their Kincades and important paperwork and bolt.
13. Get to my parents 1 city over, help my dad water down his roof.. we should be safe here but taking no risks.
14. Brothers brand new house is in direct path of the fire, he is in San Diego for a wedding. He calls me and tells me to drive over, punch out a window.. grab laptops, photos, emergency papers and stashed cash.
15. Arrive at his neighborhood.. fucking warzone. People running around in masks, police driving slowly on loudspeakers giving orders to estranged people. I was told to leave, but I don't. I punch the window out, and do as my brother asked. The fire line is less than 100 yards from his house. He lived on a new construction, on a new golf course .. everything was going up.
16. Scared mother with her 20 something daughter see me taking action and ask for help. I help them manually crank on their brand new sprinklers, hose down their entire house/roof and reassure them that everything will be ok.
17. Eventually leave, back at my parents ...

18. Read on ocregister.com that my complex is up in flames, see photos of my building, specifically my apartment tile # burning from the inside out.
19. 2 days later Fire dept lets me back.. the entire building is ashes.. my life gone.
20. Wake up the next day, fuck it. Start over and never looked back. State didn't require renters insurance so I didn't have it. I did not file for emergency funds from the state as I felt it was not my neighbors and coworkers responsibility to pay for my lack of foresight. I ate the entire cost of all my loss and moved on, saving say only my dignity which was fine by me.

Thats a high level of my fire experience, there are tons of details I could trudge through but nobody wants to hear about them. Every ounce of my being and heart goes out to the OP ... its hard, its REAL hard to deal with something like this. Its almost like your entire life was murdered, photos, memories .. childhood ... everything gone in an instant.

I lived at the time in Yorba Linda, CA ... we don't get wildfires here. We don't deal with floods or any shit. That day was like the world coming to an end, and I'll never forget it as long as I live.
Last edited by alphaNoid; 09-08-2011 at 09:04 AM.
weekend_warrior
Junior Member
(09-08-2011, 08:53 AM)
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Jesus Christ dude. That's terrible!
TheHeretic
freaky fetish expert
(09-08-2011, 08:54 AM)
Whats the correct protocol in this situation? Are you advised to hose down your home and simply try to outlast the fire, or to run as the OP did? Sounds like a terrifying choice to make.
SalsaShark
Trust no one!
Keep your laser handy!
(09-08-2011, 08:57 AM)
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Jesus..

Cant even put into words how sorry i am man, holy fuck. Speechless.

Do you have a paypal account?

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