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Wildfire evacuees take refuge in Palm Springs

Thousands of families in the Ventura and Santa Barbara counties have been forced to evacuate because of the Thomas Fire.

One family had a home in Ventura County that they were forced to leave last week.

“Waking up Tuesday morning, the night before, we’d seen some glows in the hills beyond but waking up Tuesday morning I saw the smoke and then it looked just a little too close,” said Ventura County resident Donna Baker

“They said ‘you’re okay for now, but if that winds switches, you’re going to be in trouble, you need to get out,’ then all of a sudden, we all heard that wind come up and then we knew we had to go,” said Jeff Baker, Donna’s husband.

The Bakers grabbed their most valuable possessions before being forced out of their homes by the fire last Tuesday.

“Came down to photos, my hard drives, you know, we did a lot of traveling. I have these journals, I have about 7 or 8 of these handwritten notebooks and those are the first things,” Jeff said.

For the last six months, Jeff and Donna have lived with their adult son in law, daughter, and son atop Rincon Mountain.

“For our children, this was their life. They had a winery and they had just been through harvest three and a half months,” Donna said. “They worked 24-hour shifts and all the work they had put into this for that to happen, oh my God.”

The Bakers met with fire departments from across Southern California.

“The people that were helping us, they’re just such great people. They don’t want anything in return. My son is a big Disney fan and when we got a crew from Anaheim, he thought it was the serendipitous moment,” Jeff said.

The Bakers are currently staying in Palm Springs as they wait for the evacuation orders to be lifted. After 8 days away from home, they are wondering when they will be able to go back home.

“We hope to get home. We really do, our problem is we have to wait for the evacuation to lift and there’s no power at our home,” Jeff said.

“It’s like every day checking in and going, ‘Can we go home yet? Can we go home yet?’ And then the thought of when you do go home, what’s it going to look like? Our home is there, but what we loved about the surrounding area is burned. I think that’s going to be a difficult thing to see,” Donna said.

KESQ News Team


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