East Texans Now Living In California Talk About The Firestorm - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/24/07- East Texas

East Texans Now Living In California Talk About The Firestorm

"I grabbed whatever I could grab just quick enough to run out of there," said Danielle Smith, San Diego resident.  "For all I knew the fire seemed like it was very close."

It was a horrifying wake-up call for Smith early Monday morning. Neighbors screaming, knocking on doors, yelling to get out, because a fire was spreading towards them.

"All I could see was the wind blowing extremely hard, ashes everywhere, smoke everywhere, smelled like fire burning," said Smith.

A few hours up the coast in Malibu, East Texas native Jason Elman, stays in close contact with his family in Hallsville. 

"They were really worried," said Elman.  "We were on a voluntary evacuation list, and that was about to be bumped to a mandatory because the fire was coming in our direction. Then luckily just yesterday they took us off the evacuation list so I think the fire's moving the other direction."

A change in wind would also spare Danielle's home, but not her neighbor's.

"I was so thankful when it jumped just north of my home maybe a half of a mile," said Smith. "The west winds pushed it right past my home, but I know that when I look out my window I'm going to be able to see homes just burned across the street."

To another East Texan living in San Diego, this wrath of nature is shocking.

"It's crazy cause you're used to thunder storms, lightening storms, you know like tornadoes and stuff and then there's like fire there's like actual smoke in the sky," said Kasey Southwell.   "Your brain doesn't really work that way. There's like crazy ash falling out of the sky. There're thousands and thousands of acres on fire right by you."

In shock, yet concerned for those who've lost everything, but grateful to have a home still standing.

"I'm very thankful that God protected my home at this point, but I feel very sorry for the people's homes who were destroyed," said Smith.

Courtney Lane, Reporting.  clane@kltv.com   

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