In dramatic footage captured on the family’s Ring doorbell camera, Becky Ibarra and her two children raced to pack belongings into their SUV as the flames become larger, more threatening in the background.
In the video, Ibarra can be seen quickly but calmly loading the family’s items into the car, directing her children to do the same, before an unnamed man nearby warns that they need to evacuate immediately.
“The sky was black, so I knew it was coming quick and I wanted to get out of there,” Ibarra told KTLA5 News.
She said while the experience was “nerve-wracking,” she was “just trying to stay calm for the kids.”
Ibarra said once she and her children were safely in the car, she drove two houses down to try to rescue their neighbour’s dog.
“It was just a matter of ‘how fast can I get out of here, is the dog going to come to me’. I was yelling her name through the doggy door,” she said.
“I knew they weren’t going to make it home in time to get their dog, and at least their pet would be safe.”
Ibarra said she loaded the neighbour’s dog in the backseat with her children and their own dog, and headed for a hotel.
Her husband, Ben Ibarra was at work when news of the fire broke. He told KTLA5 News that he was rushing home to help but was barred from entering the neighborhood.
“It was frustrating because as bad as I wanted to be here, I couldn’t,” he said. “My wife did an amazing job packing everything up and keeping everybody calm.”
By Friday the fire around their home died down, and Ben was able to return to survey the damage. Luckily, their home was untouched.
The same, however, cannot be said for all 50,000 people who have been displaced by evacuation orders in an around the Santa Clarita area.
“I can’t describe the feeling of knowing that everything’s fine for us, because I feel so heartbroken inside for all the other people that aren’t as fortunate,” Becky Ibarra said.
On Thursday the fire destroyed six homes in the area.
To the north, firefighters raced to make progress against a blaze near Geyserville in Sonoma County before ferocious “diablo winds” returned. The fire had burned 49 buildings, including 21 homes, and swept through nearly 104 square kilometers of the wine-growing region.
It was 10 per cent contained by Saturday morning.
Several thousand people living in small communities in neighboring Lake County were also warned to be ready to evacuate. The area was the scene of a 2015 wildfire that killed four people and burned nearly 2,000 homes and other buildings.
And, high winds around 137 km/h this weekend could ground water-dropping aircraft, disperse fire retardant and drive hot embers far ahead of the flames to set new blazes, Cal Fire Division Chief Jonathan Cox warned.
Andre Vesey, CEO of Pacific Gas and Electric Co., said during a briefing on Friday that with the high winds and bone-dry humidity, these places have “effectively become tinderboxes.”
“Any spark, from any source, can lead to catastrophic results,” he said. “We do not want to become one of those sources.”
On Saturday, PG&E announced it would be going forward with the second planned power shut-off this week.
The utility says blackouts will begin around 2 p.m. Saturday in parts of 36 counties. About 940,000 customers — more than 2 million people — will be affected.