ow we have quite a few firefighters and family of firefighters on this forum so I feel this is as good a place as any to post a few thoughts.
Thank you Thank you Thank you are not strong enough words to express how grateful myself and my family are for all you have done in the past week and a half. Because of all of you brave men and women that walked in as the rest of us ran out we have homes, barns and shelter. Anyone in Silverado Canyon or better yet, those of us that were in Modjeska Monday saw what you were up against and knew you were undermanned and overpowered. With no air support (And it was not because of the wind, Arnold) you all stood your ground and put up a fight that only training, will and most of all heart would keep you standing… and you won!
To all of you reading who have no idea how bad things had become I will give you a first hand account. Malibu went up first and the Santiago fire became second on the list of resources and popularity. I got a phone call from a frantic wife that we may need to evacuate our ranch and I may need to drive home. A friend in OC drove out and confirmed that the fire was big enough to cause worry so I drove from Havasu to OC and arrived at 1:45 am to find roadblocks and smoke. We flooded our property, hosed down everything that could burn and prepared for the worst by hooking up our trailers and getting the animals sorted for travel. By 10:00 am that morning the fire jumped the road and we loaded up. Kim and I had to decide what animals to leave behind on our first trip and spray painted our phone number across there backs in bright orange paint figuring we could see them from the air when the smoke cleared. Two cows and two horses could not make the first trip and Kim was planning on all but riding them out. We made the initial drop at the OC fair grounds and went back for more. Being that we own an equine ambulance service and our naibors needed help,we did not stop going back for three days.
I have no idea how many animals we got out, but it kills me to say that there were a few we had to leave behind, some that could not make it had to be put down before the fire could get them. Firefighters provided an escort and got us in so close that the stickers on the side of my rig melted. Even so they kept going back and we could see them driving and hiking to areas that anyone with common sence would be running out of. We had to stop going into Modjeska Tuesday as we were told a firestorm rolled through and many houses went up, ours was probably on that list and at this point we had delt with the emotions that our ranch was most likely gone. We sat at Cooks Corner waiting to hear if the crew separated from there truck made it out alive. It put everything in perspective that these people really were risking their lives to save our homes. I have since seen pictures taken from another ridge of this crew sitting in fireproof tents as they were trapped and the fire rolled over them. All this to save my house, my animals and my neighbors property.
When we were escorted in that night to grab a few more animals I drove to my house to see if it was standing and check on my livestock that I could not load in time. I could see tire tracks down my stall alleyway and the gates were open from my arena where they made a stand. My neighbors house was gone, the people above on the ridge lost everything, and the fireline surrounded my property. The house was standing other than a few burn marks, and my cows that I had let go that morning stood in the farthest stall from the burn drinking a fresh bucket of water and eating the last bail that I figured to be there last meal. One of the Firefighters walked up and said “The one with the horns was interesting to catch, but I have 30 of my own and figured they would be safe in there”. They had saved everything and then went back to feed the animals.
The next few days was more of the same, spot fires and winds grabbing an occasional home and these people never letting up.
Cooks Corner became a staging area and the bars owners kept it open around the clock. When Kim and I would stop in the guys would come back covered in soot, sweat dripping from head to toe and would smile when they told us they fed our cows again (Veal and Burger became popular and yes those are there names and no we wont eat them). From Sunday night to the fallowing Monday morning the crews never stopped, never complained and never turned and walked away.
Even my neighbors that lost there houses cannot stop talking about the fight we watched last week in the canyon. The one that the underdog won making it possible for some of us got to go home yesterday. And the first thing that everyone did before walking through the door was hang an American flag or a big sign saying THANK YOU FIREFIGHTERS!
So this is one way for me to try to get a message through to all involved.
Thank you for my house! Thank you for staying behind when we left! But above all else… thank you for saving and feeding two very important members of my family that could not get out!
Matthew W. DeLisio
To all who read this…Please copy and paste this in an email to any firefighter who worked the canyons in the last week. They are Hero’s and what they did should not be taken for granted
amazing - thanks for posting this- glad it worked out as well as it did for you - prayers for your neighbors - jeff
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