By Sarah Domier, Red Cross Volunteer
Being an L.A. native, I’ve grown up around numerous wildfires— but never had one been just a freeway exit away from my very own home! The day the La Tuna Fire started I received a call from my mom telling me to head to my boyfriend’s place because the police were closing the freeway off for miles, including the exit to my home. This of course made me feel terrified for what could happen to my house and to my family. For hours, I watched the news, followed the @RedCrossLA twitter feed, and kept up with information about the freeway closures. My hope was that I could make it home that night. Finally, around 2 am, once I knew there was a safe route that would lead me home, I headed back.
It took days for the firefighters to take control of the fire and the whole time there were orange clouds that covered the sky. In fact, looking over my house towards the fire, orange clouds were all that I could see. We could smell the smoke too, and there was ash on our cars. It was terrifying. For a few days, my family and I waited in fear, wondering if we would be evacuated, and planning where we would go if we were.
On my way home that first night, I passed a Red Cross shelter that had been set up at the Sunland Park—just a few streets away from my home. Instantly, I felt some relief. If the fire had been a few miles closer or the wind had been blowing the other way, it very well could have been me and my family seeking refuge with the Red Cross. Knowing that there were Red Cross volunteers donating their time to make sure there was a safe place for the families affected by the La Tuna Fire made me feel a sense of security—even during this time of great uncertainty. And, seeing that the Red Cross was there when they were needed most made me feel proud the I too, am a Red Cross volunteer!