RMWD CEDAR FIRE HEARINGS

SESSION 1

 

Speakers:

 

 

Introduction

DianeConklin

Alan

Bernard

Carla

Diego


Edward

Francis

George

Henry

Ida

Jerome

 

Karl

Jerome2

Lee

Martha

SamMitchell

DianeConklin2

 

 


 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Bob Krysak:  Good evening everybody, I want to welcome you all to the first public meeting of the Ramona Municipal Water District Cedar Fire Ad Hoc Committee.  My name is Bob Krysak; I am a member of this committee.  On my right is Director Kit Kessinger who is also a member of this committee.  This committee was formed by myself as chairman of the AMWD at the urging of the Mussey Grade Road Alliance with the purpose of securing public input from individuals who suffered losses in the Cedar Fire and establish a factual representation of the timing and occurrences of the Cedar Fire, which ravaged portions of our community.  I want to publicly thank Diane Conklin and any other members of the Mussey Grade Road Alliance who have assisted this committee from its conception and is continuing to do so to its conclusion.  The purpose of these public meetings, and this is the first of three, is not to cast blame or aspersions upon anyone or any agency, the purpose of these meetings is to gather information and facts which we will then assimilate into a report which will be provided to the various agencies investigating the Cedar Fire.  Particularly we are interested in time lines, stories of both official and neighborly assistance and self-help or absence of the same.  Any evacuation warnings or lack thereof and damages suffered.  With this information and the resulting report, we can hopefully gain an insight into not only what could have been or should have been done differently if anything, but what we can do in the future to prevent this kind of loss from happening again, both as official agencies, as neighbors and as ourselves.  The meeting tonight is being audio recorded for later evaluations but we will also be taking notes.  Speakers should fill out speaker slips that are located at the back of the room.  I already have several and I will call them randomly, thereís no particular order.  You all should have received a questionnaire in the mail, which basically outlines the type of information weíre trying to get.  If you do not have questionnaires there are copies of the questionnaires in the back of the room.  We want to get input from as many people as possible so we would appreciate it if you would limit your discussion to fifteen minutes.  I know that fifteen minutes is a long time and many people like us canít speak that long, but we will listen.  Iíve often said Iíll stay here until dawn to listen to people if they want to talk, so donít feel constrained but understand weíre trying to get limited amounts of information back and we would appreciate you holding your comments to that.  Again, we are primarily interested in what, when, who and where regarding the fires progress, official response and warnings and assistance provided by others, official or unofficial, or self help.  Please do not be offended if we interrupt you or commence the dialogue with you, because we want to make sure we get all the information.  So we may interrupt to ask you questions while youíre giving your presentation.  With that being said, let me introduce Diane Conklin to make a brief presentation before we start the public portion of the meeting.  Diane.


Diane Conklin:  Thank you.

 

Bob Krysak: If you could step up Diane to the microphone so we can get you on tape.

 

Diane Conklin:  President Krysak, Water Board Director Kessinger, Alliance Members and other friends, people of Ramona.  Thank you for being here this evening.  This is the first of three fact-finding meetings to be conducted by the water board at the request of the Mussey Grade Road Alliance, a five year old, grass root citizen organization organized to preserve and protect historic Mussey Grade Road.  These meetings are being held to gather the testimony of victims of the Cedar Fire in Ramona in order to draw a picture of that fire based on the stories of the victims.  My name is Diane Conklin and I am the spokesperson of the Mussey Grade Road Alliance.  I did not loose my home and that is part of my story, however, as you know, at least 106 homes of the 190 Ramona homes that were destroyed in the Cedar Fire were located along Mussey Grade Road.  I am speaking here tonight on behalf of the Alliance and those who lost their homes.  I reserve the time to give my own account of the fire from my point of view at another date.  The members of the alliance believe that it is important for the Water Board to hear the stories of those who lost their homes in their own words.  We believe it is important to know from the victims on the ground what happened to them during this great catastrophe, and not only along Mussey Grade but all of the victims of the Cedar Fire disaster in Ramona.  Therefore, the alliance came to the Water Board in November and asked the board to investigate the Cedar Fire.  We also asked the board to look into the boards contract for fire protection with the California Department of Forestry, CDF, for possible breach of contract based on the extensive losses along Mussey Grade Road and the lack of any fire protection offered to our community from Dos Picos Park Road south to the end of the grade.  The water board president has set up these meetings before this Ad Hoc Committee as a first step in a two-step process he annunciated at the November 25th meeting.  The first steps are these fact-finding hearings to establish time lines and get a general overview of the progress of the fire.  The water board will write and submit a report based on the testimonies given here and on the January 24th and January 29th meetings to all commissions investigating the Cedar Fire.  The second step will take place after these hearings and will entail the water board looking into any possible breach of contract by the CDF.  Those living along Mussey Grade know just how great a catastrophe we have suffered and have lived through.  Our extended neighborhood has been decimated by the fire.  Everywhere you look there are homes destroyed, lives disrupted, changed and forever altered.  Some of us watched our neighborhood burn to the ground without a single fire engine to assist.  We called each other and spread the warning of what was approaching, saving our neighbors lives.  We called the authorities to beg for assistance.  We helped one another evacuate.  Most of us finally fled our homes, leaving behind much of what had made up our lives, our memories, our material wealth, our community and our natural beauty.  People returned to a disaster area that looked like a war zone.  Mussey Grade Roadís ancient and honored oak canopy, our pride and joy, suffered tremendous losses.  Irreplaceable vistas no long exist along large portions of our five-mile road.  Instead, we see ash and the remains of houses.  People are still reeling from the experience, people are still cleaning up, going through the ashes of their lives, straining to rebuild, often times under funded, uninsured and misunderstood.  People lived in the cramped spaces of fifth wheels and recreational vehicles with their children and pets and what was salvaged.  The news no longer talks much about the fires, the news has moved on.  People will not be restored for long months and possibly years, as rebuilding is not so simple.  And now we have new fears, the inability to replace what people had because they donít have the money.  The threat of the lack of rain to help the land recover.  The threat of too much rain bringing the specter of erosion and more damage.  The lack of justice inherent in the attitude of the part of some authorities that all that could be done was done.  We were told by some that we should also just move on but that is only possible when the facts are known. There are some things in the human psyche that demands closure and closure demands that the truth be known, that is why these meetings are important.  We may not obtain full closure through hearing the stories of those who lost their homes but we will approach closure through this process.  This fire, the biggest fire not in San Diego County or California but in the Nation was an event so cataclysmic that nothing less than a full airing is required to be able to move on.  Finally, it is important to remember that there will be different views expressed in these hearings and that is to be expected.  Some peopleís homes were saved because obviously more homes exist than were burned but I ask this Ad Hoc Fact Finding Committee to weigh the stories of those who lost everything with special consideration.  Above all else, the tragedy suffered by those most heavily impacted by the fire should not be trivialized or lost in the numbers of persons testifying who may not have suffered such life altering losses.  We must accord dignity and serious listening to those among us who lost the most in terms of what really happened, we have the most to gain from them.  Thank you.

 

Bob Krysak: Let me also state something that I neglected to state earlier that is, although weíre concentrating on the Mussey Grade Road area there were other losses throughout the community and we are considering those facts also from individuals that suffered losses in other portions of the community, just that primarily the bulk of the losses were down the Mussey Grade, I neglected (inaudible).

 

Unidentified Speaker:  I like to thank you all for being here, I understand that this fire was a devastating event for many of you, probably most of you and believe me I understand the loss, I also have some losses from the Cedar Fire so I look very much forward to all of your comments and listening to what you have to say about the events that took place during that fire, your homes and your lives and thank you again.

 

Bob Krysak: With that being said, speakers are in random order and in no order of preference, and the first one Iím pulling off is Alan.  When everyone comes up to the mike just say for record your name and the address of the property.


Alan:  Good evening gentlemen, fellow neighbors, having recently moved back to the Mussey Grade area just a few weeks before the fire I recognize some faces from the past and some new people.  This was a nice questionnaire that they sent out, I think theyíll get a lot of information but thatís not my real interest, Iíll put my details in a nutshell.  Fortunately a neighbor woke my wife and I up in our home at [Fernbrook], Ramona, California my name is Alan, my wife is named Alice, she spells it XXXXX.  A neighbor was, woke us up at 4:30 in the morning and said with this statement, ďThereís a big fireĒ and our little part of above Mussey Grade thereís a mountain ridge behind us and to the north that sort of shields Kimball Valley from where we live.  The fire was probably already in Kimball Valley by that time, I donít know.  Walked outside, incredible orange glow, my wife was absolutely petrified.  I spent ten years in the Coast Guard, been to fire fighting school, Navy fire fighting school so I was a previous member of the Fernbrook Volunteer Group, EMT trained because we had no, when we were abandoned that time, if you have any Fernbrook people here if you recall the county abandoned us back then, they said take care of yourself, you know what I felt exactly the same way during this fire, take care of yourself.  The curious thing was, as we drove down the road at 4:30 in the morning, drove down from where we live, weíre about a mile up down the Mussey Grade my neighbors were all leaving, nobody had any answers, in fact the first thing I did after I got up after I saw the glow was turn on the television, obviously thereís got to be something on, there was nothing on.  Maybe my neighbor that woke me up was like overreacting, maybe this wasnít as serious, we thought. The orange glow told me something was really going on.  We drove down the road a bit to just surmise just how serious this was, about half way down I met a couple of my neighbors that I see here.

 

Bob Krysak: Where were you driving?

 

Alan:  Uh, down the hill south towards Mussey Grade from Laurel Lane.  Neighbors were packing up and leaving, just absolutely petrified my wife and myself even more because again there was curiously no sheriff unit.  As I look down the valley there was no red lights, I didnít hear any sirens, I thought this was really peculiar, where is everybody?  Probably left a little early, probably could have got a few more things out of the house.  Again there was no communication; zero communication on if it is two hours away, is it an hour away. The other curious things, in the past thereís been a sheriff unit that has driven up the hill and said thereís a fire because this is new to everyone in this room, this is not a surprise, we know we live in a fire hazard area, but this never happened.

 

Bob Krysak: You said (inaudible)

 

Alan:  Absolutely, absolutely.  I donít know where they all were.  I donít know how many sheriff units are in Ramona.  I sure would like to know those nights how many were on duty that night in our area and where they were.  The other question that Iíd like to know, I can get that from you later is I would like to know how many firemen were on duty that night.  In fact Iíd like to know how many firemen were on duty say the previous week when it wasnít red fire Santa Ana, did they like have extra people in, did they have people on vacation, did they have contingency?  The other thing Iíd like to know is how many firemen do we really have that actually drive fire trucks.  Iím not talking about administrative people because we certainly need administrative people; Iím talking about line fire fighters.  Another question I had was how many fire trucks were actually capable of taking care of me and my neighbors.  Iíve driven fire trucks and I know a city fire truck is incapable of coming up a lot of these roads but I also know in previous fires that my neighbor had seven or eight CDF trucks in their yard, I had a CDF truck in my yard pulling water from my 9000 gallon holding tank on my 3 Ĺ inch fire main, theyíve shuttled water from my house many times in the past, in fact the top of my water tank it says, in very large letters it says, fire water so hotshot helicopter crews can direct people in the past and as far as directing people in the past, in the past I had CDF people drive up my road that I knew, a name that comes to mind would be Jack Story years ago.  Jack knew every back road, he knew every driveway, he knew where every tree had fallen off the road that you couldnít go, you had to go around the back way, he knew where your house, your house, your house, believe me he knew, I never saw any Jack Storyís for about three days, in fact I donít know where our local CDF expert who knew Mussey Grade was that next day.  Iím talking about days after the fire.  The other curious thing was nobody knew anything in town.  Just before daybreak Alice and I drove out to Ramona, the airport on Montecito because I thought well Helitack planes, theyíll be flying at daybreak, got there and the two super S2ís were fueling up, not landed yet at daybreak, there was a ground crew there that shuttles the pause check into the aircraft and I heard them very clearly say, thereís no big planes coming.  When I heard that, I know the significance of air attack, I was really, really concerned.  Nobody knew anything, sun came up, the head on the fire was absolutely incredible.  I think nobody in this room has ever seen a fire has ever seen anything like that.  Mountains in Ramona were miniscule compared to this so we knew how serious it was.  So now the fires over and the first time we drove up our driveway to our house I noticed something real unusual, I see no tracks, nobodyís been up there.  Did my house burn down early or did it burn down late.  Did my house smolder for a day and a half like my neighbors porch burned, just went out by the grace of god.  Nobody, not one CDF person had driven up and checked.  We used to call that in my time when you overhauled the fire, you look to see, is there something else, is there a hot spot, is there somebody thatís been burned, is there someone that didnít get out.  Nobody ever came up that road.  I donít know if they came up many of your roads but I thought how could that be.  Where is everybody, where is the sheriff unit, no sheriff unit drove up. Whereís the CDF people, it was just neighbor, neighbor, neighbor later, thatís the only help I ever heard from anyone, but the fire insult and this is what bothers me more than anything else, when we couldnít get down Mussey Grade because there was a highway patrol man down there from northern California who didnít have a clue if my house was gone, if anybodyís house, we got no information from anybody.  The day they opened the road I thought well this is nice, we can now get to our house, there was no security.  There was no security and I guarantee you, I couldnít drive in Scripps Ranch and go walking through the homes of Scripps Ranch that day but when Iím at my house and some people come riding up on motorcycles and their picking through my burned neighbors house, I mean there not harming anybody but their just there, Iím wondering how were they allowed, number one, down Mussey Grade because they werenít people I knew, I had no security on my property, that was the final insult.  So in a nutshell, I had no help, I had no warning, I had no security.  Now when I looked at the Ramona Municipal Waterís web site today and itís a nice website, good information, I thought what were we paying for?  I was really concerned about that.  What was CDF contract to do some work for us, what happened?  I know how busy they were but thereís also a thousand sheriff officers in this county or more, I donít know what the number is, itís high, where were they?  If it wasnít for people in this room warning neighbors, there are people in this room that wouldnít be here today, I may be one of them, I may be one of them.  Thank you.

 

Bob Krysak: Next speaker slip I have is Bernard.


Bernard:  There is no use in discussing anything after the fact.  The fact is over, they concealed everything.

 

Bob Krysak: Bernard could you state your name and address.

 

BernardBernard [Mussey Grade Road],   Iím not there now itís burnt down.  If you want to reach me I am at a retirement home and I donít know exactly the number off hand.  Iím referring to this after the fact situation as I did during the military intelligence during World War II.  Itís too late after the fact to discuss anything, itís before the fact occurs and in this case my question is, when we pay taxes for fire protection is that considered a contractual relationship?  If it is a contractual relationship then they failed to comply to their obligation.  Now, we have to refer to other things.  I wasnít around when the fire started; I was told after my place burned down, I was out of town. 

 

Bob Krysak: Were you out of town on vacation?

 

Bernard:  I was out of town from my ranch.  Another question rose of course after the fact, that was number one, what kind of help I have my caretaker here at the ranch, what kind of help did he receive and he told me that he had to leave; there was nobody that came around.  My home was a museum of Indian Artifacts.  Very considerable amount.  Thatís the responsibility of the insurance company of course but itís me, or any other person, when you are a person accumulating artifacts over a period of years, 35 years, never occurs to me and Iím a lawyer but Iím not admitted to the California State Bar because I do not care to practice law in California from my experience in military intelligence but there are certain things that occur in my mind and the first thing was I understood that there was two fire engines that were decommissioned, that werenít working.  My next question would be if I were questioning someone and if it was a criminal situation, how did the fire start?  And then Iíve learned from the newspapers that the fire started from somebody who was supposed to be hunting in the area, I would like to know if he had a hunting license, Iíd like to know if he owned a gun and if it was purchased for any particular reason other than hunting and the next question is that he couldnít find his way out of the area in which he was hunting and he shot a flare up into the air.  Itís that flare that started the fire, fire department should have responded immediately regardless of directions because I checked this out and it took five hours before that fire to lay down at a 45 percent with the wind backing it going into the area in which we live.  I have the exact statistics on these and Iím just wondering why the fire department didnít understand this and if they should have and they should have, why didnít they call in relief for helicopter or helicopter relief from some other area.  These are the things that concern me the most as far as the future is considered.  Having the training that I have had particularly in the military, the most important thing is try to predict what is going to happen in the future under certain conditions and prepare for them and thatís all I have to say.

 

Bob Krysak: Do you know when your home was reportedly destroyed?

 

Bernard:  Yes, my home and my caretakers were both destroyed.

 

Bob Krysak: Do you know when that happened?

 

Bernard:  It happened during this fire.  My question also would be at this moment is thereís a lot of trash around there, whoís going to pay for picking that up, me?  Or is the county going to do that?  Before I can rebuild, the trash has to be removed and thereís considerable trash.  I also have merchandise and items that I use.  I am a volunteer chaplain at Grossmont Hospital and I have a great deal of consideration for people, particularly people who havenít had an opportunities for things that other people have and I had that and most of that that I did have was destroyed by this fire.  Thank you very much.


Unidentified Speaker:  My English is not very good; I only speak what I understand a little.  See I live on our property for fourteen years.  I (not understandable) of my hand because I couldnít stop the fire because he make a lot for me, I canít save the house because no pressure of the water.  No water, city water.  I stay when the flames go to the house there was no water.  No police there, no fire trucks, I want to.  I feel responsible because my home for fourteen years, home of my boys and my, no safe his house and I feel responsible because I can do nothing and a lot of people leave, I leave when fire on the ridge, I leave in my truck because I scare my truck not start, I says I can not stop it, I put on the clutch and the speed from the fire on the entrance to the gate and fire around the house, around 9:30 when I run away, nobody there because the fire along the Mussey Grade Road.  I like to stay more but I canít because there is no water, I put the sprinkler on top his house, I run to our house and to another sprinkler, I go because there was no water.  Thatís what I think and I say what I do here I take my family first out.  I leave on Sunday 9:30 or 9:45, I donít remember exactly what time I leave but I leave almost around 10:00, 9:30 to 10:00.  I took my family to 67, I go back because I got two vehicles two cars and I pick up the last one, I take all the animals out, I take out blankets and my watch, I go back to stay in there and there is no police there.  I want to stay over there, try to save the houses but when I see the fire, too scared and you see no water, no pressure, is say what I do here, and I got the water over there and I got blankets wet and towels on my head and I stop the fire on the houses but no water, I feel responsible for my boss, for his wife because I can make nothing, nothing.  I canít respond to him, his home so I can talk.  Thank you.

 

Bob Krysak:    (Inaudible)


CarlaCarla, [Fernbrook]  I told you my story before, it hasnít changed.  I did give you my records of my phone calls where I was calling 911 on a cell phone and was told my house did not burn until about 11:30 and I only know that because of the phone calls.  There was someone down there who called me and there were several of our houses that were still up.  The fire had gone by and burnt a lot of houses around 5:00, 6:00 but it had gone by several houses down there.  I got a call saying your house is still standing, I called from the high school four separate times, each time they put me in charge with the battalion, they were sending three trucks and I kept getting these calls saying they werenít, thatís why there was four different calls and then I find out later my trucks got to the top and I wasnít the only one who called, there were other people calling, Mussey Grade at the Tobiassons sat in their driveway, watched them fight the fire, drove back out, didnít help them, didnít help anybody.  I talked to a retired fireman the other day who was very angry with my attitude and he said, ďDo you think all the firemen were asleep in Ramona?Ē  And then he said, ďWhy would anyone want to go down in that hell hole and burn to death.Ē  Well people did burn to death because no one was in front of the fire to tell them to get out and we are very lucky that we all helped each other.  If we hadnít have helped each other you would have a big pile of people that were dead because there was no warning and they knew seven hours and they also knew that they didnít stop it at the end it would spread.  I mean when we talk about fire trucks coming up there every year, they were aware.  Itís not like this is a big surprise, they were aware that if they didnít stop it there it would go down to Poway, Scripps, Lakeside, Harbison Canyon but there wasnít even one fire truck, there was no response and like Ike, heís very concerned, I felt that way too, I felt since my house was left why didnít I go back and fight it because thatís all I had and with him I start crying, you canít do anything if you donít get any help and there was no help, apparently there was a sheriff that came down and by the way thereís three sheriffs on at night and they did not, your firemen did not go to the county which is where we were calling from unless you call from a cell phone for three days.  They had no idea what was going on except for the 911 calls that were coming into the county.  Thatís probably why one of the sheriffs were out there, he couldnít get around to all of them.

 

Bob Krysak: Did you actually see the sheriff or just heard from other people?

 

Carla:  He was not on my side of the road, he was on the other and I heard from four other people that they saw that one of them handcuffed somebody as her phone was melting in her pocket.

 

Bob Krysak: To get her out of there?

 

Carla:  To get her out of there so she didnít die, he didnít want to die either, I think thatís what he said, ďI donít want to dieĒ and he handcuffed her and took her out.  She was trying to save a pig.

 

Bob Krysak: This was a duty sheriff, not a sheriff that lived down there?

 

Carla:  This was a duty sheriff.

 

Bob Krysak: Do you know when that was?

 

Carla:  That was probably about 9:00.

 

Bob Krysak: And have you heard what he was doing, was he warning people?

 

Carla:  Yes.

 

Bob Krysak: How?

 

Carla:  He was just going up and down the road telling people to get out but it was kind of late.

 

Bob Krysak: With a bullhorn?

 

Carla:  I have no idea.  But the thing is, there was no help and they just didnít want to go down there.  They knew that they had to do what they had to do and still someone is responsible for people dying, someone is responsible for all our houses just burning up and in the news they never talked about Mussey Grade until we started making noises.  It was like we never existed, Harbison Canyon did, other places but Mussey Grade was never mentioned, it was like it was a hidden place or something that was dirty, I donít know, they just didnít want to talk about it, maybe because they had to explain but all of us if we hadnít helped each other we really, really would have died.  Weíre in a valley where we couldnít see the fire coming, they knew it was coming, it always comes.  Why didnít they send a helicopter, everyone get out, the fires coming this way, get your stuff, we canít help you, anything, there was nothing, no response for it for a long time and when they finally came in they didnít go past the park, Collier, not Collier, Dos Picos Park, they didnít want to come up this way.

 

Bob Krysak: You actually witnessed that?  Witness any fire fighters by Dos Picos Park?

 

Carla:  Thatís again just hearsay.  I do know that I talked to many people, it was about 3:30, 4:00 before they even drove our way, came down that way and I went back finally after two days.

 

Bob Krysak: When you refer to time can you refer to PM or AM.

 

Carla:  Okay, that would be, when I told you they came, that would be in the afternoon.  It took me three days from running from place to place because I had my animals and you canít just go anywhere with them and they stayed in my car and still lost some but when I came back it was only because a sheriff had told me that I could get back in and they were going to close the road because they sent us up to Julian so we followed it down, it was like midnight, three of us and we got to Mussey Grade and got in and after one of the neighbors, there was all kinds of people going through stuff and taking stuff, there was looters everywhere and I caught lootersÖ

 

Bob Krysak: What day was that?

 

Carla:  That would have been, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, probably Tuesday.

 

Bob Krysak: Tuesday night?

 

Carla:  Got back?

 

Bob Krysak: Yeah.

 

Carla:  No, it was Wednesday morning, sorry, and when I got back one of the neighbors had a house, we stayed, me and XXXX stayed there with the animals and we were taking in burnt animals and there was people all over every day, cars coming down, getting on your property, checking things out, getting out and touching things, going through your stuff and then [Officer] came by and I told him that my husbands guns were gone and suddenly we had every 45 minutes they were highway patrol, they were everything, there was all kinds of people.

 

Bob Krysak: When?

 

Carla:  That would have been Wednesday night.  He did very good about getting security but it was late, it was after the cause but they donít have a lot of people up here and some way they got a whole bunch.  They got people from the court, they got people from the, but that only lasted for about a week.

 

Bob Krysak: When did you actually leave the area?

 

Carla:  I left the area, it was still dark, I would say 5:00 because there was fire starting to come down from Kimball Valley.

 

Bob Krysak: And that was in the morning?

 

Carla:  Yes.

 

Bob Krysak:    (Inaudible)

 

Carla:  At the high school.  Afternoon.

 

Bob Krysak: Actually late morning?

 

Carla:  Yes it was.

 

Bob Krysak: And on these occasions you actually spoke with a live person and they informed you they were sending help your way?

 

Carla:  I talked to the dispatcher who put me in touch with the battalion leader, each and every time, thereís got to be records of it not only on my phone bill but other things.

 

Bob Krysak: Each time, (inaudible).

 

Carla:  Yes.  Then I got a call that said your house is gone.

 

Bob Krysak: When was that?

 

Carla:  Right after the last 911 I made, there should be another call coming in from there.

 

Bob Krysak:    (Inaudible)

 

Carla:  Time didnít mean anything; at that time it was nothing.


Bob Krysak: During the time when you first noticed the fire and you evacuated (inaudible).

 

Carla:  There was nobody.  We were all helping each other.  I started calling because Diane called me and I had the list and I started making calls and those people made other calls and it just kept going and my friend Jan, she was very tired and she lives in a adobe house and sometimes she doesnít hear as well as she should, sheís 71 years old and she went to sleep and I called her, she went to sleep again, I called her again, on the third call I told her, get your butt out of there now and Iíll meet you at Kittyís and she wasnít there so I went down and I stopped in front of the mobile home where there was lights on and honked my horn until they came out and I said, ďyou get out too,Ē and then I got back and she was there and we all caravanned to the park, Kmart first to buy leashes and stuff to tie the dogs to the trees and then to the high school but it seemed like I went to the high school late but it wasnít, it was very early, there was no time records, it seemed like a 40 hour day.

 

Bob Krysak: Are you rebuilding?

 

Carla:  The county is making it as difficult as possible to rebuild, I have to pay the fire fees, school fees.

 

Bob Krysak:    (Inaudible)

 

Carla:  Dream on, dream on, dream on.

 

Bob Krysak: Are other people finding that experience?

 

Carla:  Theyíre making me re-do my septic system, I have to hire an engineer.  No everyone has got to this part yet; they change on an hourly basis at the county what theyíre going to do, especially with the health department.  This is going to be very interesting before itís over.

 

Bob Krysak: Ultimately, you plan to rebuild?

 

Carla:  If I get my okay, yeah.

 

Bob Krysak: Are you doing things differently when you are rebuilding?

 

Carla:  I have sprinklers in my house.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  On the fees, itís my understanding that they are waiving the permit fees.

 

Carla:  Thatís about it.  Itís a hard battle to try to rebuild your house.  Thereís going to be people who canít because the county is making it as difficult as possible.  The one thing they did promise, you get in front of a line, thatís all theyíve done.  Thank you.

 

Bob Krysak: Diego, I canít read the last nameÖ.

 


Diego:  Okay.  Diego, I live on Mussey Grade, actually I live on Fernbrook, 14094 Fernbrook Drive.  In reference to getting back here with Carla and the situation on the fire, like they say, weíve been through two fires down there in the previous past years and we had plenty of help.  There was a lot of firefighters approximate counts, Iíd say back in the years, at one time there was at least 60 or 40 or 50 firefighters that were digging, in fact they went down through our yard to start the fire to put the fire out rather.  This time here about 3:30 in the morning I got a call from Carla and saying just be prepared for the fire, itís coming our way so I get up, wake the family up and get the wife up and she kind of starts packing stuff up and getting stuff ready just in case.  I kind of thought it was going to be a routine thing where weíd be back in a few hours and it would be all over, but like I say, this is a fire that is unbelievable, you canít even imagine, itís an unexplainable feeling so about 3:35, 3:40 I went, drove all the way down to the Ö(end of tape)

 

Diego:  Öpropane tanks and thatís a pretty scary feeling and it looked like the wind was blowing the opposite directions and it looked like everything was okay and the fire was actually traveling up a hillside just I donít know 25-30 miles an hour at that time again, to the best of my knowledge, 3:45 something like that.

 

Bob Krysak: You said opposite?

 

Diego:  I guess it would be going south, south east again to the best of my knowledge and itís a pretty scary thing by seeing it, seeing a fire that close so I drove back home and it was probably about, I donít know, estimating 3:55 we got the final initial call from Carla and everybody and I woke up the neighbor Edward and Edith because Carla had woke us up just to be prepared and be ready to pack and leave.  But again Iím saying, thereís just nobody down there, there was just no help.  Itís pretty rough when youíve got a family of five and going through all the stuff, headaches dealing with the insurance, itís so bad Iím paying a mortgage down there, thereís nothing there but ashes and Iím paying my rental house here because my insurance wonít kick in for that and let me tell you, thatís drastic headaches.

 

Bob Krysak: When did you actually leave?

 

Diego:  Iíd say at least, again donít quote me, probably little before 4:00 in the morning and Carla had told me call 911 but I kind of assumed the whole neighborhood was calling, it was pretty rough to get through, according to neighbors again, I donít know what else to tell you.

 

Bob Krysak: Do you know when your house was destroyed?

 

Diego:  I think it was somewhere the following day before noontime, which would be the 27th, I guess.  9th, 10th, itís pretty sad you work so hard for something for so long and itís gone like that and let me tell you, itís a pretty bad feeling.

 

Bob Krysak: Are you planning on rebuilding?

 

Diego:  Absolutely, I think Iím going to build a cement house this time.

 

Bob Krysak: You never during the course of the fire saw anybody, personnel or something like that?

 

Diego:  I seen a sheriff again, the initial call was to get out probably about, Iíd say, donít quote me on it again, maybe 3:50 in the morning.  I donít recall.  3:30 to 4:00 I guess.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Diego:  Okay, it would appear again approximate time again.

 

Bob Krysak: You said you left your house about 4:00.

 

Diego:  Okay, am I off by an hour, I donít know, like I say, when youíve got five kids and youíre trying to pack stuff up and get everybody up.  Well letís be in my shoes for a second youíd know where Iíd be coming from.  Iím just telling you, it just amounts down to being devastating.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Diego:  It looks like day but itís dark out.

 

Bob Krysak: What was the sheriff doing?

 

Diego:  He had us evacuate but the majority of the neighborhood was the only ones that gave us the initial evacuation sign.

 

Bob Krysak: Was he going door to door?  Microphone?

 

Diego:  No microphone I didnít hear.  My wife is saying a microphone, I donít know, I didnít hear it.

 

Bob Krysak: Was he telling people get out or what was, what message was he conveying?

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Diego:  Thatís about all I can tell you, you know.  On going headaches and I can see ongoing headaches for me and my family personally.  Okay, thank you.

Bob Krysak: Okay, EdwardEdward.

 


Edward:  My name is Edward, [Fernbrook], I was wakened the morning about around 3:30 by Diego, the person who just got through speaking and told us it didnít look good, the fire coming over the mountains and the smell of the smoke was getting bad so I dressed and went outside and verified all this and started packing, getting ready to leave, to evacuate and there was activity up and down Mussey Grade but starting to pick up Mussey Grade.


Bob Krysak: What do you mean by activity?  People driving?

 

Edward:  Yes, and I noticed the animal trailers coming down, it was a little later and so we just started packing and getting things, throwing things into the car and we left, we starting hearing what sounded like propane tanks exploding over in Kimball Valley and so we as we were loading we stopped by Diegoís and we all left together, we out and we parked at the top of Mussey Grade on Highway 67, just along Highway 67 at the curve and we were there for a while, quite awhile and then we went to the Kmart shopping center and.

 

Bob Krysak: Do you remember the time line in regard to hour; do you remember when you left the area?

 

Edward:  It seemed to me like 5:00 or 6:00. 


Bob Krysak: Did you see a sheriff at all?

 

Edward:  We saw one across the creek from us, thereís a, Fernbrook Drive, thereís an area there on Fernbrook Drive that a creek goes through, running through there and the area is not county maintained but there is traffic coming down through it but on the other side of the creek we did hear a bull horn, sheriff, but I couldnít figure out what he was talking about and then on Mussey Grade farther on down from us we didnít hear that either but of course by the time we got up to across from our house it had already quit talking so there was no sheriffs came to our house to warn us before we left.

 

Bob Krysak: Do you know when your house was destroyed?

 

Edward:  Uh no, I really donít know what time because we did, we listened to the radio all the time and we went to Kmart and we went into and watched the television for a while and we didnít see anything, hear anything, see or hear anything concerning Mussey Grade area.

 

Bob Krysak: You were assembled at the top of Mussey Grade for some time there?

 

Edward:  Right.

 

Bob Krysak: Did you ever see any fire personnel come to the top of Mussey Grade at all?

 

Edward: We saw, fire personnel we saw as far as I know, eye distance from us where fire was coming over the hill and behind some buildings and the fire trucks were there but I donít know if any went down Mussey Grade or not, further down.

 

Bob Krysak: By Dos Picos Park?

 

Edward:  No, it was, as you look, just off of the Mussey Grade within visual distance of the top of Mussey Grade at 67, there is a hillside, if your looking down toward Mussey Grade itís on the left hand side.

 

Bob Krysak: How many approximately?

 

Edward:  I saw two, they seem to be, they seem to pull out and it seemed like one or two more went back in, it seemed like at one time it just started flaring up again and so they went back.

 

Bob Krysak: You never saw them go down Mussey Grade Road?

 

Edward:  I couldnít, they turned to go up to that area, I couldnít see beyond there, in fact I couldnít really see where they turned off there, I just saw them that they were already over there.

 

Bob Krysak: Are you planning on rebuilding your house?

 

Edward:  Yes.

 

Bob Krysak: Making any changes on the way that youíre building the house?

 

Edward:  As for right now, no.

 

Bob Krysak: Do you ever recall any emergency personnel during that time?

 

Edward:  No the people, I mean the, before just as we were beginning to leave, just before we left there was a neighbor coming up, walking up Fernbrook Drive and we was packing and she says ďit doesnít look good so you get your wife and get out of here.Ē  So we left, I just took it for granted that it had already been reported.  We had, there had been a fire not too long, well quite a while ago across the creek from us and I called 911 they said itís already been reported so the engines were already on their way so I just took it for granted.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Edward:  37 and a half years.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Edward:  Yes, what we have, we have had several, at least four fires that we have either been told to be prepared to evacuate or evacuate out on the paved road and each one of those times we have had the fire protection, we have had air tankers, helicopters, firefighters and firemen and weíve had sheriffs up and down and itís come to like, the fire, itís not controlled, itís going to spread and that wasnít controlled so it went and the, like I mentioned once a while ago outside, this reminded me of the time when we had, we sent the National Guard back east, they sent them toward Iraq and left the area unprotected against the National Guard help and on the way over to Iraq we started having floods, rains and all so they had to bring the National Guard back to help the victims, well this is just about what happened here, we had fires up north and the fire equipment was taken up north and left us unprotected, thatís what it seems like.

 

Bob Krysak: When did you return to your home?

 

Edward:  The, it was a day or two later, you mean toÖ

 

Bob Krysak: To go back to see whatÖ

 

Edward:  A day or two later, yes.

 

Bob Krysak: Was there a sheriff protecting that area or at the head of Mussey Grade when you went back?

 

Edward:  Yes.

 

Bob Krysak: Did you have to prove to them that you were a resident?

 

Edward:  Yes, we had to, right.

 

Bob Krysak: Did you notice people down there when you went back that didnít belong there?

 

Edward:  I didnít notice, no.

 

Bob Krysak: Francis.

 


Francis:  My name is Francis, I live at [Barona Mesa Estates] and I have a letter to the grand jury dated November 8th that I havenít sent yet because Iím waiting to see what investigations are going to be done but if theyíre not to our satisfaction then weíll have to request a grand jury investigation.  I want to go back way early on Saturday when the fire first started and from where I live I could just look right across the way and see it and I called 911 around 4:15 and

 

Bob Krysak: 4:15 AM or PM?

 

Francis:  PM, Saturday afternoon.  I gladly asked the sheriffs department to show me the 911 tapes, maybe Iím wrong but our recollection is that our first call about the fire was around 4:00, 4:15, 4:30, something like that.  I had a friend arrive from Seattle around 4:00, I barely got to have her in and got her suitcase before I called on the fire so itís beautiful day, daylight, no wind but we knew that Santa Anaís were predicted and Iím just going to read this to stay on track here.  Iíd like to know if the 911 tapes have been subpoenaed.  Numerous citizens have reported that they called the fire in from 4:00 to 4:30 on.  Theyíve written editorials in the Ramona Sentinel, one of them is my neighbor XXXX, I think he said he called at 4:15 and I know thereís other people who have.  There were about two hours of daylight, the time change had not taken effect yet, sunset was around 6:15.  The CDF is maintaining that theyíre first call was received at 5:35 PM, that they dispatched the first units at 5:37, so we need to get to the bottom of this because all of this tragedy could have been averted.  There were pilots at the Ramona Airport, everybody knows about the sheriffs pilot that picks the guy who started the fire up, Iíd like to know if anyone has possession of the incident reports that were filed, that would be a document documenting the time that the sheriffs department knew when the fire started and that the CDF would know that there was a fire so we need those incident reports and Iíd like to know where they are right now, whoís had them, where have they been, and where are they right now.  And Iíd like to know where the first units were dispatched from and if it was the right place to dispatch them from and I heard a guy on Stacy Taylorís [radio] show Halloween night saying their first call was at 5:35 and they dispatched the units at 5:37 and I think he said from Pine Valley or Pine Hills and Iím not a long time resident here so Iím not sure so was that the right place or could they have gone out Ramona Oaks and headed in to the fire that way?  They report that they were a half a mile from the fire and when the terrain was too hard to get into.  Okay so if they got to the fire around 5:37, 5:45 however long it took them to get there and theyíre within a half a mile, what did they do?  The fire like, the WWII veteran, like he stated.

 

Bernard: Bernard

 

FrancisBernard, he has the terminology, this fire did not go vertical for hours and hours, I watched it stay a little tiny glowing spot all evening long.  The winds did not start.

 

Bob Krysak: Can you set a time now that you noticed the winds started?

 

Francis:  They werenít bad at Barona Mesa when we evacuated around, oh I canít remember, it was almost 1:00 in the morning I think.  I donít even care about going into about how we were evacuated, a vehicle pulled up and two men, I donít know if it was sheriff or fire, told us to evacuate, we figured that they were telling everyone, they didnít tell, thereís four driveways off our cul-de-sac, they didnít tell one of those families who woke up later and saw us all leaving, if they would have been XXX, I canít even go there.  Anyway I called, I guess my main point is that the fire was called in way early, there was at least two hours to put water on it, the wind wasnít spreading it, the Fire Marshall I believe wrote an article in the paper, was quoted in the paper saying like by 11:00 PM it was still only three acres or something, it wasnít huge for hours until the winds whipped it up so I want to know if the CDF is still maintaining 5:35 was first call and thatís our main question.

 

Bob Krysak: George.

 


George:  Iíd like to just mention one thing.  I really donít have too much to say, I donít have, nothing happened to me like what happened to you.  Iíve seen a lot of you come through my office with the disaster relief fund and thatís my point.  I know this meeting isnít about that but Iíd like to go on record by saying that thereís been a lot of people in Ramona giving $25, $50, $100 to our fund to help the fire survivors and then I open up the paper, the Escondido paper and I see that somehow or another, the county supervisor Bill Horn was able to get $100,000 for Valley Center Fire Relief Fund which was actually cited after ours and it has the same non-profit status, the same way we set ours, what makes Valley Center more important than Ramona and thatís my point, I would like to get to the bottom of that and Iím going to work at doing that because every one of you deserves the same that Valley Center residents do.  Why are we different?  Are we the stepchildren or what but thatís my point and I wanted to go on record.

 

Bob Krysak: Thank you Bill.  Henry.

 


Henry:  Hi, Iím Henry, thatís all right ever since Kindergarten; I live at [SDCE] with my wife Holly.  We donít have any of the kind of damage that many of the people here have but just the points that I wanted to make was we were woken up about 12:30 in the morning on I guess it was Sunday morning then, by neighbors, went outside about 12:35, walked down, I live on the northern end of [], I walked down toward Kerri Lane and the fire was starting to come around the mountain there and I could look out to the south and it was down I guess some homes were destroyed over on Moonglow near the golf course there so thatís where it was then.

 

Bob Krysak: 12:30?

 

Henry:  12:30, 12:35 we left about, pretty close to 1:00.  We went in and grabbed up the dogs, grabbed a few papers and we felt well weíd be out for, weíd probably be back tomorrow morning or later in the morning but we didnít get back until late Tuesday.  We tried several times, we had two dogs so it wasnít that easy to find a place around here to stay, my wife works out of town so she has an apartment out in El Centro so we eventually just drove out there and camped out in the little tiny apartment for a few days but itís nothing again what the people here had to do.  Points that I wanted to make is first there was no warning from any officials, they could have been running up and down the streets with sirens going to wake people up or with bull horns or whatever.  When we left there were, Iíd say probably four or five police down at the corner of Ramona Oaks and San Vicente, one was waiving traffic, the other four were just kind of standing around. 

 

Bob Krysak: You say four to five, is that cars or people?

 

Henry:  Individuals.

 

Bob Krysak: Do you remember how many cars there were?

 

Henry:  I didnít you know, there were so many cars backed up, people were just leaving.  We actually, we had assumed that our neighbor, they had also banged on her door but I guess they hadnít so as we were leaving my wife said, gee I wonder, do they know and so she went over and banged on their door and they have a little baby and they didnít know so they got out but again it was haphazard who people got out.  Evidently the fire because some of my neighbors, rather than evacuating, stayed there and fire came through in maybe 15-20 minutes, it just roared along the side of the mountain there and it was gone.  We were kept out until, let back in again late Tuesday and from what our neighbors were telling us that stayed there, they went around for a couple of days there putting out little fires starting out while we had five or six deputies manning the road blocks to keep people out, none of them had any information to what had happened to our houses or anything but we had five or six of them blocking the back route in, I donít know how many were on San Vicente but if these people hadnít been there to put the small fires out all the homes in there are on propane tanks, it would have been, once one started going it just would have taken streets out.  Iím disappointed the way no one has been held accountable from the person you hear nothing anymore about the person who started this fire, I havenít heard him mentioned for weeks or even a couple of months now.  The people that should have been on top of this warning people, I think this lady was talking about Grand Jury, I think this is criminal negligence at least.  Thatís basically all I have to say.

 

Bob Krysak: Ida.

 


Ida:  My name is Ida; I live at [Fernbrook].  The day of the fire we had the boy scouts out and they were doing their pioneering badge and that night we decided to take them to a drive in movie, one of those old fashioned things so we went down to Santee for a 9:30 showing and we had three cars caravanning and we crossed over 67 at midnight and the highways are weird, we saw a fire on a hillside running down the hillside to the south and we started getting upset at the boy scouts thinking they had started a wildfire because we have a knoll on our property and they had had a campfire there earlier and it looked like it was right on our knoll and so I just panicked thinking we had a lot of people there that night, [Ikeís] parents were there and his uncle and aunt, two of our renters had two guests and we also had two other renters and so I just imagined that we had started a wildfire and all these people are going to burn up so we thought about stopping at a persons house that we knew on Archie Moore and then I said oh itís midnight so I said letís just go right to the fire department and let them know what happened so we went to Dye Road to the fire department and there was a man on the steps in front of the little building on a cell phone and I jumped out of the car and said thereís a fire down Mussey Grade Road, do you guys know about it?  And he said oh no, it looks like itís on Mussey Grade Road from where you were but itís way out in Julian, donít worry about it.


Bob Krysak: Was this guy in uniform?

 

Ida:  It was dark, midnight, he was standing in front of the fire department, I canít tell you who he was or anything, I didnít even think at that time, you know, thereís no reason not to trust a fireman and I really donít, itís not an issue of trust, itís an issue of what he knew and what communication had gone on.  So I said hey we have 15 boy scouts and weíre going to camp them on the knoll tonight, is this a safe thing to do?  And he said oh yeah, itís actually in Cedar Creek, itís way out there, donít worry about it all, so I thought they know so we drove down Mussey Grade Road and the scout master and another father was with us and we camped all the boys up, put them in tents and we stood on our knoll, some of you might know the highest peak in Ramona, thereís two behind it, thereís two other little ones and we could see an orange glow from behind our knoll behind this peak and we thought it was really strange that you could see orange glow if it was all the way out in Julian so after the boys were in bed we kind of stayed up for an hour just seeing if that glow was going so we finally decided well thereís a lot of land between Julian and here so letís just go to bed so the scout master and the father went and this was a camp out for them and we were close enough so.

 

Bob Krysak: What time was this?

 

Ida:  1:00 they left.  1:00 in the morning, I just remember thinking that itís midnight and I hadnít changed any clocks at that point and then it was an hour later that they left so we all went to bed and the wind was just wild and it just whipped in every direction and so we tossed and turned all night feeling this is weird sleeping when you know thereís this giant fire out there.  At 4:00 our phone rang and I looked up and there was the clock, it said 4:00, I hadnít changed the time.

 

Bob Krysak: You hadnít changed the time?

 

Ida:  I hadnít changed the time so it said 4:00 and I said oh they might be calling to evacuate us, maybe it has come and so Ike got up and I heard him talking and I heard him say oh you know what itís not anywhere near here, itís in Julian, we talked to the fire department ourselves so itís fine and this was a friend of ours that lived in Mussey Grade Village and he said Ike go look out your window so Ike runs outside and he goes oh my gosh and come and look and so I went running out there, I could see his body, Iíll never forget this image of his body completely silhouetted and the entire horizon being orange and I just lost all the moisture in my mouth, it was the most terrifying thing to see but it was far enough away that it was on the Kimball Valley range still, I could tell it was above the Kimball Valley so I had time to think, we had 26 people on our property at 4:00 in the morning and all I could think of is Iíve got to get everybody out of here, I canít believe we have these boy scouts here and Ike, similar to what somebody else said, the winds blowing south, letís not panic everyone, if itís going south so he made me wait and watch this fire descend down Kimball Valley Road, itís Kimball Valley mountain range until it dropped behind a little range that is on Laurel Lane, a little range where I could not see the flames and it actually got to a place where the flames were so high that I couldnít tell that it had dropped behind the mountain range but anyway thatís details.  Finally I said Iím going to find out how serious this is and I called 911 sometime in there and they said if you see flames evacuate, we donít know where it is or where itís going.  Thatís what I was told.

 

Bob Krysak:    (Inaudible)

 

Ida:  4:15 on my clock remember.  So that gave me power, I went out and said weíre evacuating, she said if I see flames we can evacuate and so I ran, you know, I started running around our property and trying to tell everybody to get out of here and we called the scout master and the other parent and they came up and evacuated all the kids along with two of ours so we could concentrate on this.  I didnít have a trailer for my animals, I had to just open the pens for two llamas, a goat, pig and 14 chickens and they all survived, brilliant llamas.  That was really traumatic having to leave my animals to that wall of fire.  Anyway, my one point is that I talked to the fireman at midnight, the other point is as we were going down the road, I saw Alan, I donít know if heís still here, actually a friend, a neighbor had run up the hill and he said Iíll go up and tell the rest so I knew they were covered and I could focus on our 26 people and when I saw him coming up the road I thought heís coming and heís got his back to the fire so he doesnít even know that there is a fire.  I later found out that he had actually gone to see it and was coming back so we knew he was okay and everybody was at least clearing and as I went down the road I passed a police man, I was on Laurel Lane, I think it was a policeman, it looked like a police car, Laurel Lane goes this way and then it curves up the hill.  I stopped on the hill and said, oh itís so good to see you, donít worry about evacuating us, weíve got everybody covered on the hill and he said oh Iím not coming to evacuate you, I just want to see where the fire is and I sarcastically at this point because this is the second time Iíve come into an official who seems to have no information I said well you know thereís a great view on our knoll, the boy scouts enjoyed it for the last three hours, go right up ahead, go right up onto our property and get that view, itís really quite nice and I left because it was pretty irritated.  I later found out one other thing from Sandy, I donít know if sheís here tonight but she lives right down the bottom of my hill, right below us, she said around 5:00, it must have been the same policeman, probably after seeing the fire, went down and said, it looks pretty serious so you probably should evacuate, and this is definitely by the time it was on Kimball Valley Road so it just seems like to me I donít feel any anger towards these people who risked their lives to fight the fire, itís just a feeling like whereís the communication, why didnít people, the people we can trust, why didnít they have any knowledge, itís scary to just trust these people.  We left and evacuated.

 

Bob Krysak: What time was that?

 

Ida:  5:00ish.  It took us about an hour to get out of there.  We went over to XXXX, over to Poway and camped out in my husbands building.  Woke up at 6:00 kind of took some cat naps and saw that the fire had come up behind us and found out that our church was giving an evacuation center so we went back over the mountain, over 67 about 8:00 in the morning, which was probably the biggest mistake but anyway at the time it seemed like a safe thing to do and Ike was antsy to get back, he wanted to get on the property so we went to the church and Ike and XXXXX went down Mussey Grade Road at I would think 8:30 and they could not get to Fernbrook, the flames were, the description, he had to leave to take my boys to boy scouts, the description was that there were just huge flames on either side of the road, there was no way to get through and if there was anything left on Mussey Grade Road it would be a miracle.  So that was the last thing we knew.

 

Bob Krysak: Do you know how far he got?

 

Ida:  He couldnít get into Fernbrook so as far as I know it was just short of you know, I donít know how to describe it, thereís not a lot of landmarks, well short of the white fence and this tree, maybe it was the Fernbrook sign.  So anyway, he wanted to get back on the property and Monday he came back and they actually went around a barricade so there were policemen there the day after, 24 hours, from what I remember of his story, they actually had to go around the barricade when the policemen werenít looking because they werenít letting anyone at that point, it wasnít a matter if you were a resident, they just werenít letting people down and they did have to go around a few trees but again, that same issue of there was no firemen down there and Ike and XXXX, his business partner and my father-in-law, mother-in-law and XXXXís wife fought fires, they carried five gallon buckets of water from Fernbrook house, there was a man there and he was giving us his water, we had no water, our pipes all burned from Laurel Lane all the way up so we didnít have any water and they carried water to the animals to all the plants that were still alive and they turned over stumps and they put out fires and they were covered from head to toe in soot and everybody remembers those days and I think that really strikes me too.  I think weíre new in Mussey Grade Road and when we bought that house we thought well this is a place where you just run when thereís a fire but after hearing the stories of people who had been there a long time I felt betrayed too, I thought well if they have a history of taking care of Mussey Grade residents then why were we forgotten this time and so that really struck me that we had friends and neighbors Tuesday also come out, not neighbors, they were all busy with their own, we had friends from the city that wanted to help fire victims come out and we probably had fifteen people digging, turning over stumps, putting out fires and we had a lot of hot spots that could have re-ignited.  One other thing in ending, my husband stayed the night that first night and it was completely black, no power, no water, smoke thick and looters.  Heís never been a person whoís afraid but he was terrified that night because a person drove up at 10:00 at night to our upper home that had burned to the ground and had parked up there and he had nothing to protect.  He had a flashlight to put into his face and so that was just a thing of how do these people get through and why are they driving on our property at midnight.  So we did get power the next day, we got a generator going and water and that helped him a little bit but it was still a battle that some other people have said about people coming down.

 

Bob Krysak: How many homes are on the property?

 

Ida:  Too many.  We have our primary home, we had a rental home that burned down, we had a cottage that burned down, we had a mobile home that burned down and another mobile home that had just been moved there that burned down and then we had a fifth wheel that for some reason survived and our primary home survived so we lost four rentals.

 

Bob Krysak: Have any idea why your primary home survived?

 

Ida:  I think the guardian angels were standing there with big hoses, I really have no idea because it actually literally within two feet it went around both sides of the house.  I have no idea; it is the most flammable building on earth so thereís nothing about it thatís fireproof.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Ida:  Our computer went down in it so I lost everyoneís phone numbers, I canít call anybody.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Ida:  And heíll be back with the boys when itís over. 

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Ida:  What I remember him saying is standing at a barricade with police and standing with Darcy who had a mobile home and they were looking into Fernbrook and they thought it was hopeless, this was like at 8:30 in the morning so thatís all I know but Ike can give you the facts, I donít know that.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Ida:  Me, I didnít go until Tuesday afternoon.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Ida:  No, just a couple, just a few left.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Ida:  Oh many homes, itís amazing how many homes.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Ida:  Oh weíre a noisy group.

 

Unidentified Speaker: (Inaudible)

 

Ida:  The communication both ways. 

 

Unidentified Speaker:  Did you make any calls?

 

Ida:  Yeah I called 911.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  At 4:15 AM, and thatís the only call you made?

 

Ida:  Yeah.  Oh yeah, I called friends, for emergency just one.  Thank you.

 

Bob Krysak: Your up.


Jerome:  Alright, Iím Jerome and Iíve lived in the [Mussey Grade] for sixty five years so Iíve seen several fires go through the area all around in the last years and Iíve never seen any that went as hard and fast as this one.  I might start Saturday before the fire started we was coming back from Colorado and we was listening to the radio and both 15 and 215 was closed with the fire jumping over the road so when I got home I took a big water sprinkler and set out back of my house in the oak trees.

 

Bob Krysak: When did you get to your home?

 

Jerome:  Noon Saturday.  And so we did what we could to sprinkler and almost all night.  At about 3:30 my son-in-law, which is a highway patrolman in the area, called me and said, ďfires coming, get ready to go.Ē

 

Bob Krysak: 3:30 in the AM?

 

Jerome:  Yes in the morning and so we, I run out of the house and I moved my sprinkler to another part of our oak grove right by our house and we called all of our neighbors, all of our children and we ordered up, we got like five water trucks and we had a couple of dozers going inÖ(end of tape)

 

Jerome:  Okay well my son got down there probably 10:30, 11:00 in the morning and the fire was coming and we was, we had the trucks, everybody was packing up my family came in and took all our photographs and we hooked on to the fifth wheel trailer and got it out and all Iíve got six children in that area and they all was there helping getting our stuff packed up and they moved everybody out, they pulled their boats and jeeps and stuff out of the valley and about 12:00 or 1:00 we was loading the water truck there in front of my brothers house and all of the sudden the power lines, the fire was two miles away down in the Mahogany Ranch Road and then the telephones poles had flopped together and the wires melted right in my brothers yard and the fire started right out there and we was smart enough we took shovels and put it out andÖ

 

Bob Krysak: About 12:00 or 1:00 (inaudible)

 

Jerome:  The fire did not get to us until 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon and it was not a sign of an airplane, when the fire started coming around the mountain right within 1/8th of a mile of us I run to my house to start protecting it as good as I could and my son stayed with his as much as he could and he run down the road and there was three fire trucks sitting there from Los Angeles someplace at the end of Wyeport Road and he said my house is starting to catch fire so two of the guys that were there jumped in the fire truck and they ran down to his house and they walked around the they went inside the house and they said well the fire is already in the attic and he said well this part of it was a garage has a fire wall on it, you might be able to stop it there so they went around and looked into the house and there was no fire or smoke in the house and they said well thereís nothing we can do when it gets in the attic, thereís nothing that we can do so they just rolled up their hose and left the house burn right up and.

 

Bob Krysak: What time was that?

 

Jerome:  This had to be about 2:00 in the afternoon.

 

Bob Krysak: Where were these three fire trucks?

 

Jerome:  On the end of Wyeport, no not, I guess it was, Wyeport Road, itís really a junction of Rosemont Lane and Wyeport, thereís a cul-de-sac at the end of the road there.

 

Bob Krysak: What were these three trucks doing?

 

Jerome:  Just sat there looking, watching the houses burn up and uhÖ

 

Bob Krysak: You said one truck did come up to your sonsí house?


Jerome:  It came up there, they squirt one 20 gallons of water, five minutes, three minutes and they said nothing we can do here, they pulled out, they did not turn and go down to my brothers house, my house, my daughter Janeís or my daughter Julieís, our old ranch house or my house and we stayed there in the, in our ranch and with the garden hose we stopped the fire from burning our house out and I think that the most of the confusion on this fire was clear up in Sacramento and I think they have to have a history making fire in order to get funds for their, and I think that this is a thing that they did not, Iíd like to know how many trucks pulled the hose off their truck because every picture that you see in the Sentinel all the trucks are neatly stacked with hoses and they arenít pulled out of the thing or they arenít just thrown where they can go to another fire or Iíd like to know how many houses your fire department didnít protect.  Later that afternoon the Boyd bomber come in at probably 2:30 the Boyd bomber came in and they swiped the trail along the edge of our property and the water helicopters came in and they took four feet of water out of our pond and protected our neighbors houses but had they dropped a drop of water on our ranch we would not have lost, my son lost his house, his shop, his modular home, I lost our shop building and my brother lost his sons trailer but all the rest of the thing we slowed the fire down enough in our little part of the valley that the people came over and given us great big hugs and said you just saved all of Wyeport Road but it didnít stop there.  A little later time the fire was flaring up still on Mussey Grade and we sent two water trucks into behind my daughters house and my son-in-law and we was running hoses up in the brush and finally one of the Ramona fire trucks XXXXX with I donít know if heís captain or lieutenant, he came in and he strung out his hard line and we nursed him and he said he was going to move his tanker around to the Manzanita, Manzanita Road and he had run a line in and he asked us if we would come up there and nurse his truck and heíd secure the fire along the back.

 

Bob Krysak: About what time?

 

Jerome:  This had to be about 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  On Sunday?

 

Jerome:  On Sunday, that was what, Iím very curious what all the airplanes and helicopters and that was doing prior to 2:15 but they strung a trail from the corner of Dos Picos Park Road all the way through to Los Manzanitas there that they stopped the fire from coming down into the part of Mussey Grade.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Jerome:  We even sent a water truck down into YYYís that works for us and we shot water all around his place and he stayed there and it was survived down there at Fernbrook.

 

Bob Krysak: Jerome, these three fire trucks that you saw, I want to go back to that.  When that one fire truck left your sons house, where did they go?

 

Jerome:  Back to the other trucks.

 

Bob Krysak: And did you ever see those trucks again during the day?

 

Jerome:  No.  I did not.

 

Bob Krysak: Were they down there hanging out?

 

Jerome:  I stayed there till my children came back and gave me hell for staying.

 

Bob Krysak: You donít know, or have you heard where that truck went or what happened to those three trucks that were hanging out at the bottom of Wyeport?

 

Jerome:  Yeah, they were at the top of Wyeport.  They was from the Los Angeles area and then our fire department should have been there and give them this much direction that they could go down there, they direct every house thatís been built that has had their hammerhead turn around so that the fire trucks can get turned around but they just thumbed their nose at our area and I do not believe that it was the fault of any fire fighter, he was being directed by some place, you see firefighters go in hotels and handing people out windows, that was large areas in Fernbrook where they had whole hours to get down there and make a stand.  Had we been a bit smarter and back fired from our avocado groves we may not have lost our things, another thing that Iím involved in our planning group and we force all these new houses to leave the brush within 30 feet of their house and we call it open space.  This is a crime that is happening to all the people probably 20% of the houses in Mussey Grade and Mahogany Ranch Road was lost because of open space, you can go right down the road there and see the open space sign all withered up and immediately behind like that flag, the burnt out house that the people should be allowed to do to protect their own property, this is a property rights thing that when you buy a piece of property in San Diego County you think you own it but you donít own the creeks, you donít own the trees, you donít own the brush, they want to proud us right in a little corner of our lot and say weíre going to keep all the rest of the land for open space and they should, the county should have funds to pay for every house that was burned up by open space.  This is a thing thatÖ

 

(Audience Applause.)

 

Jerome:  Iím an advocate of the things that a property owner that pays for his property he should be allowed to do most anything that he feels pertinent, they canít even stop the damn fire from jumping 163 at Miramar where thereís only two foot high brush, you let your brush stand 20 feet tall in back of your house, 30 feet away there isnít any way that you can ask a fireman in our case here, no damn fireman come to stand between our house and the damn brush.

 

Diane Conklin:  Can I ask you a question?

 

Jerome:  Yeah.

 

Diane Conklin:  Have you ever see the bomber from the Ramona Air Attack Base or the fire department in the Mussey Grade area?

 

Jerome:  Yes.

 

Diane Conklin:  Where?

 

Jerome:  Right on Rosemont Lane, it cut a trail right, it saved the XXXX house and YYYYís, couple of hundred feet, 500 feet from our ranch and that happened at 2:30 but all of it had, the fire had already went through us before one of them came to.

 

Diane Conklin:  Did you see any evidence when you were down Fernbrook and you know the area very well, Mahogany Ranch, Fernbrook, Laurel Lane, did you see any evidence of fire (inaudible) across that area?

 

Jerome:  No we set there all morning long dispatching our water trucks to go to this building or that building and this and we sent it down and we could see clear to Kimball Valley from where we live and it, thereís no bombers flying and they, you can, it should be very simple to look at the pilots log when they took off and when they started but as soon as they, the bombers and the helicopters, they just cut it, cut a line right through and then the little, the fire trucks mopped it up and stopped the fire on that rim of the road.

 

Diane Conklin:  Have you ever seen any kind when the Mussey Grade, Dos Picos Park down to the end been abandoned like this in the past?  Have you ever seen anything like it?

 

Jerome:  No I never have.

 

Diane Conklin:  (Inaudible)

 

Jerome:  Iím sure that people in the trucks were true fire fighters but I think that big, big officials had sent the word down to do not put that fire out, letís make some history and I think this is what is happened.  Forty years ago we had Pearson Ranch leased and Mr. Pearson of Pearson Ford took in all the Dos Picos Park and we had it leased and we built several dams on the property so the rains didnít come very good and the water wasnít coming into the dams and so Mr. Pearson asked us to see if we could control burn so we contacted the forestry and we went up around three hundred acres and we cut fire trails around it and we divided the land up in chunks and piled the brush up into corners and then they said okay it looks good, you can go ahead and start burning.  We started burning and then of course nothing will burn when there isnít any wind and everything is damp and so the control burn smoldered away and so this went on for a couple of weeks.  We tried burning and the piles of brush would burn up but the other brush wouldnít burn so this was the days that the people set up in the towers up on Mt. Woodson and this was just about the time when the old PBM bombers was first being used, old PBYís and PBM bombers and so all of the sudden the east wind came up but strangely the large powers to be dispatched all of the pilots to Riverside for a pilots meeting on an east wind, the red flag day so the up come a little ribbon of smoke out of one of these piles and these people setting up in the tower looking straight down at Dos Picos Park land they were sitting twiddling their thumbs, fire come up the pile of brush caught on fire and then a little section of the controlled burn caught on fire, pretty soon half of the control burn caught on fire, pretty soon the whole control burn is all on fire and they said no burning during east wind days and we wasnít even up there so the fire just started to roar away and it jumped up over and it burned up over Iron Mountain and it burnt Walkers Mattress Factory, now the old place that got burnt down again and it burnt all the way into Rattle Snake Canyon and that night Ranger Finlin came on the ATV and he said well it was an escaped controlled burn and the owner will have to pay suppression costs and so everybody jumped in and sued this very rich man and he had a whole million dollars of insurance, them days it was a big policy so they paid off seven or eight houses that burnt and then the lawyer said well weíll settle for the balance of the policy and so Iím very cynical of what them people could have dispatched a truck when he saw the very first sign of smoke but they let her go, we donít want people to burn up our potential fire hazard and our community needs, our big ranchers in the back need to burn some of this brush out so that they have feed for their cattle and there isnít no feed for a deer when the green shoots are up 20 feet in the air, old Mother Nature invented fire long before they invented people and I think that they should let the rancher thatís trying to make a living running a few cows or that they should go in there and help and it would protect us from these big long wild fire things and Iím sorry I took so much time.

 

Bob Krysak: I have one question, Jerome, one question, I want to go back, I hate to belabor a point, I want to go back to these three fire engines that you saw, or that your son saw because thatís the first I heard of this and I need to know what they were doing or what they were not doing and how long they didnít do it for so weíre saying that your son saw them down there about 1:30 or 2:00 PM?

 

Jerome:  Right.

 

Bob Krysak: At the top of Wyeport?

 

Jerome:  Right.

 

Bob Krysak: One of them came up to his house?

 

Jerome:  He jumped in the fire truck, him and some of our friends jumped in the fire truck and they run right up to his house.

 

Bob Krysak: All right and at one point after they determined they couldnít do anything for him, the fire truck went away.

 

Jerome:  They went away.

 

Bob Krysak: Have you heard from anyone, your son or anyone, what they did, if anything then?  Did they just go back and hang out in that cul-de-sac again?

 

Jerome:  We was all too busy to know, but the other trucks, they was, they could have very easily turned and went down and asked me if I needed a pitch or help or they might have saves some of the other buildings or that.

 

Bob Krysak: Thank you JeromeKarl.

 


Karl:  Oh letís see where do I start.  I live at [Fernbrook]  To all this fire, I respect it in many ways.  One of them, one of my very good friends [E], dear [E] was the first guy to die in the fire so but I came out better than some of my neighbors.  I first saw the fire on Saturday afternoon at 5:30 me and my neighbor were going into town to get some Chinese food and I saw the plume of smoke, actually my neighbor noticed it first and said, ďis that a fireĒ and I saw it and said, ďyeah it isĒ and this was north of town so at the time I didnít think much of it, I thought they were going to get it out the wind wasnít blowing and then the wind did pick up, I hear you were asking about the wind, I think it picked up about 9:30 or 10:00 that night.  At 2:30 in the morning, actually it was about 2:15 is when I smelt smoke, I was in bed, I got up and went outside and looked and actually it might have been 2:00 because I got up and went outside and saw an orange glow off in the distance toward Kimball Valley and I went back in and laid down for a while and finally about 2:20 I got up and I got on a little Honda motorcycle and I road because I kept smelling the smoke so I thought you know for me to be smelling it over here something is up so I rode down and went up to the top of Kimball Valley Ridge which is actually off Mussey Grade Road, thereís a, where Kimball Valley starts and I went up there and thatís when I seen about ten miles of fire all along the Kimball Valley ridge and I was basically the first one up there, I didnít see anyone else up there at that time.  Okay, by the time I left some other people started coming up, the first thing I did was go back down to my house, got my oldest son up and got my dump truck up to the end of Mussey Grade Road, that was the first vehicle parked up there, this is just a timeline that no one else was really starting to be on the road yet.  When I came back which was probably 3:10, 3:15 we went back, I went back up to Kimball Valley to look again and at this time which was probably I stayed there for maybe ten or fifteen minutes and by the way at 2:30 in the morning I knew we were in trouble and by 3:30 when I went back up there a sheriff car with two sheriffs in it did come up there and I believe a highway patrol man did too in that time and I canít remember if the highway patrol the first or the third time, I went up three separate times.  Anyway the sheriff, Iím just making a point that there was a sheriff up there at that time with two sheriffs.

 

Bob Krysak: Up where?

 

Karl:  Up at the top, if you go up off Mussey Grade Road and you go up Kimball Valley Road up to the top of the road before you descend down into the valley and thatís where there were more people there at that time and the sheriff car did come up with two sheriffs in it.  I remember talking to them and asking them where, how far away and what not but by this time, by the second time I went up there, this is now at the top of the hill starting to go down into the valley so we went back and I had several vehicles to get out, pick ups, three pick ups, cars and I had to get my camper on a new pick up and all of that.

 

Bob Krysak: One-second, the sheriff and highway patrol, what were they doing?  They were up on the road?

 

Karl:  They were up looking at the fire, yes and I had pretty much was asking them well, this looks pretty bad, whatís going on and they said itís over in the San Diego Country Estates and I think I remarked, ďwell I donít think itís over there anymore.Ē  I spent three summers in the forest service in the 70ís myself so I have a little bit of experience in this.  Anyway when I went back down and we got more vehicle out and the animals and things and eventually I stayed at my house until 9:30 in the morning but I did go back up one more time with my wife when she come back home from work, she had left for work and I called her up and said you got to come back and when she came back one of the times I was taking motorcycles and cars and pick ups up to the end of the road, I made a half a dozen trips, I went back up there a fourth time, a third time, to the top of Kimball Valley Ridge and that might have been when the highway patrol was up there and at this point the fire had come down in the valley and was blowing up, the houses were blowing up from the propane tanks, I think there was three, four houses all together, three burnt so we really at this point, I really knew this okay, this thing is coming no matter what even though the wind was blowing south east I guess at all times and even until the last minute I thought it wasnít going to hit us but.  Okay so we went back and I kept getting more things out and got some neighbors earlier and woke up neighbors and stuff and I believe it was, as far as the sheriffs coming up the road at probably about 7:00 or 7:30 they did come up the road and were telling people to get out, Iím not quite sure, I was so busy but I do know one thing, I was on top of my roof at sunrise wetting it down, calling the CDF asking where are the air tankers, they never told me they were in Rancho Cucamonga.

 

Bob Krysak: At what time?

 

KarlSunrise, being daylight savings time had changed, I guess it would have been at least 6:36 at that time and I called probably five or six times myself.  One of the times later in the morning they asked me, they said, ďdo you realize you are in a fire evacuation zone,Ē and I said, ďI know where the hell Iím at, where are you guys at?Ē They were basically telling me that I was supposed to be out of there. 

 

Bob Krysak: When you called the CDF was your question always, where are the tankers?

 

Karl:  Well since I had been with the forest service I knew when it got light, half hour after sunrise the tankers would be up so thatís why I thought, I was telling my family, my kids, donít worry the tankers are coming so I was saying where the hell is the air tankers, whereís the air tankers.  There was no answer basically, they just said, ďweíve got your report, weíll see what we can do,Ē I think thatís what they said.  Weíve all found out later that they were in Rancho Cucamonga.  Now why it took them until 2:30 in the afternoon to get down there when they first started dropping because I saw it all, I was down there at Dos Picos Road when they finally came in with the helicopters, air tankers had dropped retardant as Jerome had said.  About 2:30 was about when the first air tankers and helicopters showed up, maybe even a little later because they came after the fire trucks.  Iím jumping around here but, okay.

 

Bob Krysak: When did you first notice the fire truck?

 

Karl:  I know exactly when they came, we were all standing up there and saw them come around the corner at 2:30 in the afternoon, maybe six to eight fire trucks and not a one of them was from Ramona, I think they were from Orange County and some were from L.A.

 

Bob Krysak: Where did they go?


Karl:  Well at that point I was at Mussey Grade and 67 so all I know is they came around the corner, I do know one thing, I found out later they never went past Dos Picos Road, now I understand, Iíve heard that two were down at Ira and Kittyís Cafť at about 1:00 I had heard, I think that may have been after they left Jeromeí place, he was talking about the ones that packed up and went but from what I understood is that they were there for maybe five minutes and turned around and left.  Okay I left my house at 9:30 in the morning after I got my family and the animals and everything out, me and one of my neighbors and another neighbor had stayed and we were basically, as far as I knew, the last ones in the whole Fernbrook area because when we left there was no one.  I come to find out that there was a few other people who stayed and saved their houses.  I was wetting my house down continually with the sprinkler on the roof and everything when I left thatís the only reason why my house still stands.  That and what Iíll get to later but anyway so I left, went up to the end of the road for about an hour and five minutes and about 10:30, 10:35 I came back, no one wanted me to go but I got on my bike and I went back down and if it hadnít have been for the highway patrolman at Dos Picos and Mussey Grade who used some common sense I convinced him that I was going to go down there whether he was going to try to stop me or not I was going to ride by him and he decided to let me go and just said, ďbe careful and I canít be responsible for you,Ē and things like that so I went on down there and no other vehicles, actually I got down there but I had to get off the bike several times to break a few branches of the four trees that were across the road and Iíll tell you that later but the only reason I point that out is that the fire trucks, I think if I got down there the fire trucks could have gone and the reason I went was I realized that a fire storm is a storm that moves, I figured within a hour I either had a house or I didnít or whatever, I figured it was time to go back if the fire had already come through.  The winds were going 50, 60 miles an hour, when I left the flames were 60 feet high across the street, the house next door blew up literally when I was on the roof, it was coming up the canyon behind me, it was on three sides of me. I figured when the house blew up that was time to go, maybe I thought.  It turns out I wish I hadnít had left at all but anyway so I did come back an hour and five minutes later, I got the fires out that would have burnt my house down, there was three separate places it was burning around the propane tank and around some trees and around some structure, our wood in the back by the camper and things like that.

 

Bob Krysak: How did you put the fires out?

 

Karl:  Well the hose to start with around the propane tank and around the trees on the side of the house but then the hose pressure went, there was a pool, I started throwing water on the wood next to the camper.

 

Bob Krysak: When did the pressure of the water start to give?

 

Karl:  I imagine it was from all the houses that were burning down, the water was starting to shoot out, I got there around 10:35, 10:40 so I figure, 11:10, 11:15 probably and thatís when I resorted to the pool and those three separate fires, the only reason I got a house, everything I owned burned to the ground.  The county didnít think I was a disaster though but I lost about $150,000 worth of stuff.  Anyway, and after that I got the fires out it probably must have been, you know the time line is hard because I was so busy running around doing things, I would say 11:30, 11:40, 11:45 and I figured well there was little fires here and there but pretty much everything had burned, whatís going to burn burned and so at that point I figured I better go back up and let some people know, my neighbor Shale and all three houses around me burned to the ground, I figured Iíd drive around on my bike and let, checked on Fernbrook, down on Fernbrook Road and at that time these people donít realize, although I think Iíve told most of them, and this was by noon, when the first house may have started burn down on Fernbrook Road which is there is a little gully, thatís Carlaís, Carlaís house might have been the first one.


Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Karl:  Well which ever one is at the top of the little gully when you go down to go to the ZZZ house, that was the one that was burning first at about 12:00.  Now I went back up to Mussey Grade Road and I told my wife and two neighbors whose houses, everyone kind of knew I went down there and whose house was there and whose wasnít and then I went back again and most of those houses on Fernbrook were there still but thatís when I got a reporter guy, he was running around there taking pictures or actually.

 

Bob Krysak: You went back again?

 

Karl:  I went back like three or four times on the bike.

 

Bob Krysak: What time was it that you were (inaudible)Ö

 

Karl:  Probably about 12:30 I went up to the end of the road, told the bad news to some people which my wife didnít want me to tell them but I felt that they needed to know and then I went back and I think thatís when this one reporter that was running around taking pictures and I was kind of amazed at what the hell are you doing down here because it was getting pretty bad and all those houses, this was the second time I went back, thatís when some people were, no thatís that third time.  The houses on Fernbrook were still there, okay, at that point this reporter guy was coming out of there and I gave him a ride and then he got off the bike and started going up Mussey Grade Road towards 67 and I went back up to my house because I was still concerned about some little fires, I put out a few more and then I rode around again and now weíre talking maybe even 12:45, 1:00 those houses, a couple more of the houses had burned but all those houses could have been saved and by this time the fire had gone through, if just one or two fire trucks had come down there they could have saved those houses, all of them down there, it wasnít that bad.  What caught those houses on fire is the little fires that were burning in brush and things like that afterwards, after the fire had swept through and I feel like I got down there, of course I did get down there on a motorcycle and I got around the trees but the fire truck could have gone down there and hooked a chain or a rope around those trees and yanked them out of the way because me and some guys in a pick up did that.  Even though some of the trees were still falling, we did that.  There was some guys, two guys in a pick up and we were pulling trees out of the way.

 

Bob Krysak: What time was that?

 

Karl:  That was after 1:00.  Like I said I came and went two, three, four times on the bike up to the top of the road.

 

Bob Krysak: At approximately 12:45 to 1:00 you went down there again and there were still houses standing?

 

Karl:  Oh definitely, most of the ones that burnt down on Fernbrook were all there, they were starting to get engulfed, one after another was going.  I feel anyÖ

 

Bob Krysak: The fire already went through?

 

Karl:  The fire had gone through, cafť, hell if they got, I went back down in there at 10:30, 10:45.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Karl:  I was the only one I saw down there besides that guy, the photographer guy and me, heís got pictures of some of these houses as they started burning by the way. 

 

Unidentified Speaker: (Inaudible)

 

Karl:  I just feel that if I got down there when I did and yes there was fire on some, both sides of the roads at times, it was smoky but it wasnít so terrible that I felt that I was going to die in it even though later we did try to get out of there and we got trapped and we had to turn around and go back to the house but those fire trucks could have got down that road, at least between 10:30 and 12:00 I feel.  There was a while there though, I guess, that it was pretty bad, one of the times that I had to turn around my bike and go back to the house.  I think that was about 1:00 something when I picked up the reporter guy who was actually in trouble at that point after I dropped him off the first time and I went back up the road and it was pretty bad, there was fire on both sides and I said get on, letís get and that tree fell next to us and stuff like that and I said letís get the heck out of here.  We started going down the road and I determined we werenít going to get out and I said hey, we got to turn around and go back to the house but the point is that I think the trucks could roll even down in there and it was completely safe down around Ira and Kittyís Cafť and Fernbrook.  At this point the fire, the planes had gone past and at this point the more danger was further up Mussey Grade Road but they would have already been down there, alsoÖ

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Karl:  Also Iíd like to add that one of my neighbors, ZZZZ, went over, he has a water truck business too and he went over to San Diego Country Estates to get some fire hose to hook up to the fire hydrant that was by his house and the sheriff was going to arrest him if he did this.  If he had been able to do that heís in the row of houses that burned on Fernbrook, he could have possibly saved all those homes, just like I saved my house with a hose.  There is some sheriff, like I said that highway patrolman that let me go down there was a reasonable man, it was only because of him that my house is standing and I told three other neighbors plus someone elseís relative that was able to get some people together and they saved one house that would have burned down four houses and the few other people I did tell to go down there, GGG being one of them, because he wasnít down there until I told him to go back down there, your house is standing and it will, you know thereís fires burning around it then get out.  I told GGG this and another guy that lives on our road, Laurel Lane because his mobile home had burned down but he was building another home and he was able to get down there and get that fire out, the fires that would have burned it, the secondary fires if you know what I mean, after the fire had burned through.  This is stuff the fire department should have done; we should have had some fire protection down there.  I was going to say my neighbor HHH went over, when he went over to get that fire hose, he said, this is hearsay now but he said he saw fifteen trucks sitting around San Diego Country Estates doing nothing, obviously they hadnít gotten orders.  I donít blame the firemen themselves but as Jerome said thereís a lot of, some people work direct and we should have had help down there.  I feel like we were left to burn, Mussey Grade, they just wrote it off and said save San Diego Country Estates, itís more important, more expensive homes and I felt that itís obvious that we were left to burn.  Now myself, if I had seen those fifteen fire trucks sitting there I would have gone over and said what the hell youíre doing here, why donít you go where the fires moving, they should have moved with the front of the fire.

 

Bob Krysak: Did he say what time that was that he saw those trucks just hanging around doing nothing?

 

Karl:  Well it was before 9:30 because I left at 9:30 and he had left earlier.  This was Sunday morning, yes, it must have been, it had to be early in the morning, it was before 9:30 because when I went at 9:30 and I got up there shortly after and this is when he told me about it.  And you know I rode in and out of there for the next couple of three days and yes there wasÖ(end of tape).

 

Karl:  Youíre right, all they did was look at it, they were there for maybe ten minutes and then turned around and left.

 

Diane Conklin:  And they didnít go down (inaudible)Ö

 

Karl:  No, no.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  Years ago when there was a volunteer fire department, before the water district took it over when the fire would start Blane Shannon would throw his clippers down and run across the street and jump in the fire truck and the grocery would come out and the gas station people, they worked directly for the (inaudible).

 

Bob Krysak: The only other actual speaker slip I have is Sam Mitchell and so he wants to bring up the rear is there anyone else?  Absolutely, as many things as you want.


Unidentified Speaker:  We all grew up in the 50ís and 60ís, at least me, we had like in Claremont, we had the sirens for nuclear disasters.  Why couldnít we have some sort of siren down in Fernbrook for when there is fire danger?

 

Bob Krysak: Weíve talked about that.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  And another thing I think that should be thought about is obviously since we have to protect our homes, we canít count on the fire department, I think that there should be some sort of like dock boxes at marinas, they have fire hoses next to fire hydrants.  If thereís some way that the residents could get keys to boxes for the fire hoses next to the fire hydrants because like I say, after what weíve all seen we canít count on the fire department.  Hell we canít even count on our insurance companies.

 


Jerome:  Uh no, sorry.  After the fire swept through our lower area, I have a son who lives up on Little Page and a nephew that lives up on Little Page and they had seven bulldozers going, cutting the fire off from the Country Estates and the EA Ranch and all the way up to Santa Ysabel to the Jim Woods and that and the next day the fire was blaring going into Julian and all kinds of trouble is coming and so they called up and said do you need any of these dozers that they had been running for free trying to protect their selves and their neighbors and they said you guys couldnít do anything, youíre not signed up and there should be a way that a fire truck driver ought to be able to sign up a water truck thatís willing to help, any of these water trucks that are running around would have helped for free.  But the rules are so stringent that they are not allowed to take water from another water truck unless they looked at the brakes and the transmission or oil drip and this is a thing that if a dozer is available that might help a fire crew it ought to be able to say come ahead, weíll figure it out later.

 


Lee:  I filled out a slip and I donít know where you put it.  My name is Lee.  No my name is on there.  My name is Lee, Iím at [Fernbrook], Iíve lived there for approximately fifteen years.  This was our fourth evacuation from our house.  Fire department has always been there before, either CDF or the fire department, theyíve always been there to help, tell us that we needed to be evacuated.  Most of the time theyíll use Mussey Grade as a dividing line, as a place where they can make their stand because they can go up Laurel Lane, they can go up Kimball, they can hit the fires from the sides and then they can make their stand on Mussey Grade, this time there was nothing.  We got, XXX woke us up about 4:00 in the morning, this is after the time change, we started packing up, we went up to the top of our property saw that it was, I think at that time it was on Kimball Ridge, well at least we thought it was, we decided that we had to pack up, we left the house at 6:00, my wife went up to Ramona, I went down to the neighbors to help them load up some animals, I left there about 7:00, 7:00 there about I was in the Stater Bros. parking lot and I saw two planes take off from the airport, I think it was the SD3ís, the smaller ones. 

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Lee:  Okay, and I said okay, theyíre going to be able to knock this thing down fairly quickly but they never came back, we were there for about an hour and they never came back to land so I donít know where they went.  Usually they go off with a spotter plane first and then they, these take off and I never saw the spotter plane take off so I think these guys were going somewhere else but I have no idea, they didnít go to the Julian side, they didnít go to the Ramona Estates, they were just, they took off and left, gone, so I donít know where they went.  We had come from some neighbors, some friends of ours at 11:00 the previous night and saw the glow, like everyone else was saying, in the distance over there by the Country Estates and figured they had it under control there, then we got the call at 4:00 in the morning.  We got, when we left at 6:00 in the morning we had no electricity, the electricity had gone out at that point so that means that the telephone lines from our place come from the east so that means that the fire had already gone through there.  When we left at the end of [] we were loading the animals into the guys truck, the flames were coming down the hill faster than I had ever seen them come down, they must have been thirty feet high and we decided at that point that we better get out of there.  I came back at approximately 8:30 to the top of 67 and Mussey Grade and at 9:30 we saw two CDF trucks brush trucks come back, they had like, they had the guys in them but no water support, they turned around and about 9:35 they came back out and headed down 67 towards I guess Poway like they had made the wrong turn.  They still had their people in them, they hadnít dislodged anybody.  At 2:30 the first fire truck came by and they were from out of our county and this was at about 2:30 and they stayed up north of Dos Picos Park, they did not go down south as far as I could tell.  Iím, the paradox of this whole thing is I live right across, my house is right across the street from a fire hydrant and if I had a hose I couldnít have protected it because the sheriff was going to arrest anybody who hooked up to it.  Now, the first timeÖ

 

Bob Krysak: Did they say that to you?

 

Lee:  They said it to YYY, the other guy that was there with us.  I saw two sheriffs, I never heard a sheriff come by or a police officer or anybody of authority come down [] warning us about fire.  I saw two of them sitting on their hoods of their cars sitting on Mussey Grade and Laurel Lane saying nobody can go past here because the flames are going across the road.  On Mussey Grade down past, it goes down to a point where thereís a gate, you canít go, extend any further down than that, from that point thereís another gate thatís owned by I think the city because the city water is in San Vicente.  From that point down to the lake was covered with weeds that are taller than I am, that I think allowed some of the fire to go across, that should have been never allowed to be in that condition.  I donít know whom, the park service if theyíre responsible for the lake they should be responsible for keeping that thing cleared off.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Lee:  City of San Diego?


Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Lee:  Whomever, they should have been keeping that thing free and clear.  Itís free and clear now but thatís not the way to do it.  Thatís all Iíve got.

 


Martha:  Hi my name is Martha.  I reside at  [Mussey Grade].  Iím the person who signed the papers to turn our area over to the water district to be incorporated for fire protection because I was fire chief at the time and Iím really sorry I did that because we had no fire protection during this fire.  I live with a retired CDF fire captain, Pete and we had done everything that we could to protect our place, weed abatement beyond what was required by the Fire Marshall.  We lost everything in the fire including a county fire related book that I had worked on for ten years so Iím very familiar with fire protection in the county.  I left at 8:30 in the morning and Pete stayed like you did and tried to protect our home.  There was no water and so he finally left around 10:00 AM.  When he left the flames were fifty to sixty feet high behind him, half a mile behind him as he came up Mussey Grade.  He did not see anybody else on the road, any fire engine, not a soul, he missed you somehow.  But when I was part of the county fire department we had thirty-five fire chiefs, we went all over the county to fight fires and I really feel that the CDF contract should not be renewed.  I think there should be a movement to have a county fire department where we can rely on resources throughout the county to fight these fires.  We need full fire protection, 365 days a year not CDF they are trained mostly for wild fires, weíre no longer such a rural community, we need more structural protection.  Thank you.

 

Bob Krysak: Anyone else before I let Sam take the mic?

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible) That should be part of this thing, I heard that the fire people here said they could not handle anymore airplanes in the sky without running into each other, they should take one group of military and send them to Alpine or Crest or Mussey Grade and let them concentrate on an area, any available could have been asked for and used.

 


Sam Mitchell:  Iím Sam Mitchell and Iím Chairman of the Planning Group.  A friend of mine lived in Eucalyptus Hills, he was ordered to evacuate and on the way out he stopped by a group of firemen and he said, ďwhat are you going to do,Ē and he was told, ďwe have our orders, let it burn.Ē  He did a u-turn and went back to work saving his home, which he managed to do.  I heard here that some of you need money, that youíre having difficulty doing it.  Our supervisors have a slush fund and they give money away practically every month.  If you donít believe me, get a hold of the Board of Supervisors agenda and every month some supervisor is giving away $5,000, $10,000, $20,000, $150,000, all from that little old slush fund they have.  Now if you want their phone number, give me a call, donít do it tonight though, I want to go home, but Iím available during the daytime.  0406, 789, thatís me.  Iíd be glad to give you the phone number of Supervisor Diane Jacob office and you can get a hold of one of her staff and believe me, sheís got plenty of staff.  Bill Horn also gives a lot of it away so do the others, theyíve all got access to this.  Another item that I noticed here is permits.  Now they said that they would not require permits for people rebuilding their homes.  They said that they would furnish the trash removal, lets hold them to it.  If you have to pay for something like that or are told youíre supposed to pay something like that, get on the phone, get a hold of Diane Jacob or any of the supervisors down there and tell them you were promised and the Department of Planning and Land Use, if they try to get you for a permit for rebuilding your house, please let me know and also let the supervisor know.  Then do it again and fire a letter down there, if you have to, go down to the Board of Supervisors chambers when they have their meeting and on the non-agenda items, get up and give your story.  Ten, fifteen or twenty of you lined up down there, and all angry as hell, youíll get somewhere, theyíll listen but you got to have numbers.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  My understanding was they were waiving permit fees; you still need a building permit.  I have never heard other than tonight that you donít need a permit to rebuild.

 

Sam Mitchell:  Well my understanding was that you donít need to pay for a permit if your house burned down.  That was my understanding.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  You still need a permit.

 

Sam Mitchell:  You get the permit but you donít pay.

 

Unidentified Speaker: You donít pay fees.

 

Sam Mitchell:  So thatís the whole key, if they try to extract more money out of you, thatís when you raise hell.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  Sam?

 

Sam Mitchell:  Yes sir.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  (Inaudible)

 

Sam Mitchell:  Well thatís not exactly what they said but if you are receiving money for that particular purpose then I would expect possibly that they could ask for it but they did not say that in the beginning.  They said that they would remove the debris, thatís what I understood.  Another item here, Mussey Grade, Iíve seen what has happened to it and yet you will probably see within a year or maybe yes where they want to put a big development down there where couple of hundred people can come in and camp and spend time down there and how would they have gotten out?  Weíve asked that question and yet the county continues to allow this kind of thing to happen.  Youíre just damn lucky you did, thatís all I can say.  I donít know how some of you people made it.  If I was unfortunate as you people have been and lost my home believe me Iíd be clamoring for a class action suit against this county and I donít see why somebody doesnít start one.  Iím sure thereís plenty of attorneys that would certainly like to pick that up.  There have been trees; dead trees growing in this open space, which should have been filtered out of there long ago, they never did it.  Now they talk about it.  Letís see what happens in the areas that havenít burned.  This kind of brings back a little old saying; many have suffered because few have failed to act.  I think thatís what we have here and the red tape that kept those helicopters on the ground in the very beginning is the reason why a lot of you are sitting here today.  We at the planning group are going to be meeting with members of the water board and weíre going to try to get some things off the ground too in dealing with the county.  Of course you understand weíre only advisory and they can tell us to kiss off if they want to but being persistent is what gets you somewhere and if youíre having trouble getting what you want and having trouble with the Department of Planning and Land Use, as far as permits goes and those things, find out when the Board of Supervisors meet, get down there in the morning, fill out a slip and stand up during the non-agenda items and let them know youíre there, go in mass.  Thank you.

 

Bob Krysak: Thank you Sam. 

 


Diane Conklin:  Weíre closing before 10:00, which is good because everybody gets very tired.  I just want to say how proud I am of the people who got up and spoke because itís not easy to talk about this, especially when itís your neighborhood, itís your home and itís your family.  I would like to ask every one of you to do one thing however; there are many, many, many more of us along Mussey Grade and throughout Ramona.  A lot of people, it seems in these days, feel that they have no voice.  Please tell your friends and the people you know who suffered the loss of their homes, no matter where they live to come to the next meeting, which is on a Saturday, for their convenience.  Saturday, January 24th, 10:00 to 3:00.  I think that should actually be 2:00 because itís only four hours but thatís okay because Bob has been generous.  The bottom line is I would ask you, Saturday, January 24th 10:00 to say 2:00, please make a promise to yourself that you will call one other person tomorrow and you will tell them how productive this has been because it has been productive.  How good you feel about having had your opportunity to speak because you have taken your opportunity to speak and how vitally important it is that they come and speak because this record that weíre putting together here is the only comprehensive record that will exist in Ramona in terms of what happened to people on the ground so I ask you to do that.  The other thing that Iíd like to say is that the issue of the Board of Supervisors and what is owed and what will come is something that the Mussey Grade Road Alliance is addressing.  We of the Mussey Grade Road Alliance believe, and pardon me if I preach for one moment, that citizens Grass Roots action really works and we have seen it in our backyard and we rely on a quartering of a few people, maybe twenty and a group of one hundred families to get things done and weíve gotten things done so I would like to say that we will be talking with Diane Jacob, we will be bringing the issue of the $9.4 million that was received by her on the Mussey Grade Roadís account, Wildcat Canyon Roadís account and Muth Valley Roadís account to find out what is happening with that money and we will be following up on all the issues that impact fire victims including fees and whatís going to be done by the county for the victims.  The other thing Iíd like to say and itís because Sam brought it up and Iím glad he did and that is that the Mussey Grade Road Alliance and this is an ancillary issue, I understand that, but the Mussey Grade Road Alliance came to the water board a few years ago and asked that the Fire Marshall, Steve Delgadio who has told the Mussey Grade Road Alliance and the people who live along Mussey Grade Road and others in the environments basically that we should know where we live and thatís the problem.  We went to the water board and we asked them to look very deeply into that project Sam is talking about which would have put, it billed out an estimated 800 people on Mussey Grade Road as a convention center and I think we all know itís the Salvation Army Project which is still in the works by the way and theyíre doing their EIR right now.  The Fire Marshall signed off on this project, Iím sorry to say, with no secondary access off the land other than a road in and out that would enter Mussey Grade and only Mussey Grade their main entrance and their specific plan says that believe me, itís in the specific plan, they probably have changed it by now but their plan for fire, a catastrophic event, such as we had, is to gather all the people together in a grassy field and to honk horns and wait for instructions.  Now the water board is cooperating with the people of Ramona, not just Mussey Grade Road Alliance and we appreciate that cooperation, we truly do and I think we have to commend Bob Krysak for the stance heís taken to try to get to the information.  I think Bob understands that this is a once in a lifetime occurrence in the life of a local politician, but the fact of the matter is that the water board controls the contract with the CDF and Iím sorry to say that the Fire Marshall, Delgadio seemed to understand so little about our area that he was willing to put his official stamp on a project that had it been billed out at the time that this fire occurred would have meant that maybe none of us would have escaped so we want them to address this.  Finally, and that is an ancillary issue to this particular inquiry but I would like to say that the reason I bring it up is because it gives us an indication of where the CDF has been with regard to our lives much less our property but our lives.  Finally Iíd like to say one thing, everybody has got their opinion on this, Jerome has his opinion, I have mine, this fire crossed twelve lanes of I-15, I donít think clearing is the problem.  I think the problem is that the fire got out of control.  So thatís what weíre looking at, not to say clearing wouldnít help, must clear, but the bottom line is you canít clear worth twelve lanes.  So what Iíd like to say is that weíll continue this on January 24th, they are giving up their time. Kit Kessinger should also be commended for giving up his time and I just would like to say, please donít let their time go to waste, call somebody you know tomorrow, okay.  Thanks.

Sam Mitchell:  On the 24th I have a meeting with the Department of Land, itís my understanding I have to be down there so Iíll give them youíre regards.

 

Diane Conklin:  Iím sorry Sam.


Bob Krysak: Any closing comments.  Thank you all for coming tonight, Iíve learned a lot just tonight and thatís the purpose of these meetings and thereís nothing better than putting human face on a catastrophe like this because a lot of times even those investigating the fires speak from these tall buildings with the plate glass windows and donít listen to the individual story and I think thatís an essential part of whatís happened and part of what we can put together so again I appreciate you all taking the time to come out here tonight.  There are many in this room that did not speak tonight I see, we welcome the written comments, you all have questionnaires or can get them, you can give us information in writing if you donít feel comfortable speaking, we need every ounce of information we can get as we go through this process.  Again I appreciate everyone coming out tonig

class=Section2>

t.  Thank you.