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Saturday to Saturday

Millie Jefferson

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People survey their fire-destroyed houses ...
(Gabriel Bouys / AFP / Getty Images)
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Bill Radke: What are you doing this weekend, Rick?

Rick LeMond: Well, basically I started yesterday and I'm unloading quite a few of the items that we had packed up in the evacuation. There's pictures to be re-hung on the wall and little bits of mementos that need to be put back on shelves. We have to re-file our papers that we hurriedly pulled out of our shelves and a lot of clean up, a lot of ash around the place.


John Vogel: Actually, very similar to Rick we have a lot of unpacking to do. Some of my daughters toys that we brought with us...pictures to put back on the wall and the shelves...boxes to bury back into our closets. Our back patio has a layer of ash on it that we need to go ahead and clean up.

Ash...a lot of ash for both of you?

John Vogel: Yes.

Rick LeMond: Yes.

Has the air been hard to breathe?

Rick LeMond: I don't know how it has been for you John, but up here in Valley Center we still got the fire going on at the Palomar Mountain area. Yesterday as I tried to clean up, in fact my voice right now is a little bit hoarse, I noticed just breathing the air caused the back of my throat to hurt. And then there is the eye issue, my eyes felt like I had grit in them all day.

John Vogel: Yeah, for me its, I have noticed that I have been coughing a lot lately, in general, over the last week. All the smoke in the air... Here specifically its not so bad, but the fire burned right up to our condo complex. There is charred hillside about 20 or 30 yards away. So, it just has this general smell of wet ash, but not so much smoke in the air.

Tell us about people around you , what stories are you hearing that are sticking with you?

Rick LeMond: One thing that bothered me was to hear of two victims, unfortunately, found in their home in Ramona. 2 people who were in an evacuation area. Two people who were told to leave, but didn't. They chose to stay and either fight it or see what happens and a lot of their concerned neighbors and relatives had been calling to find out where they were and unfortunately they were found the day before yesterday. That touches close to home in a situation like this because its "is it fight or flee?" and we chose to flee and I guess everyone has to make the decision in their own mind as to what they are going to do. The repercussions of a decision like that can change quite a few things.

John Vogel: Here I heard a rumor that a neighbor of mine above me stayed. I haven't had a chance to talk to him, but from what I hear he was putting out embers that were landing in the bushes outside our building.

So that decision to stay might have saved...

John Vogel: Possibly, yes. I haven't had the chance to talk to him, but that's what it sounds like. My next door neighbor's doormat has little burn holes in it where the embers landed. Our front doors face the hillside so, the embers must have been blowing right into our front patios. From my understanding my neighbor was out here pouring water on some of these embers.

For those of us who have been following this through the media, we have so many images of this in our head. What is an image that each of you will always carry with you from these fires?

Rick LeMond: Last night my wife and I decided to go have dinner outside the home because of all the mess. We drove by an assembly area for the North County Fire Protection units and they had centralized all their equipment up here in Valley Center. So as we went by the large lights were on, the whole area was illuminated, large helicopters were flying in and out, and a variety of personnel from fire departments everywhere. We saw volunteers helping them get things set up. The mobilization was phenomenal. It was great to see that happening right there in our city, in a city that is normally just a vacant field.


John Vogel: The image I have is down the street, the entrance to the Westwood neighborhood there is a Humvee and a National Guard troop with a machine gun standing at the entrance to the area. You don't see that everyday...just around the neighborhood.


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