In Southern California, a family escapes wildfires with seconds to spare

World Today

This is what was left of the Valdivia Family’s home after a fire that broke out in their neighborhood tore through their house.

“It was pretty scary, I just ran to the room and I was like you guys wake up, the house is going to go on fire. What else could I say, I couldn’t like waking up kids take minutes sometimes, the challenge to get them up, and all I could think of was GET UP and LETS GO!” Wendy Valdivia, Hillside Fire Victim said.

CGTN Ediz Tiyansan reports.

Matthew woke up in the middle of the night to the smell of heavy smoke and they only had minutes to escape.

“It happened so fast, we didn’t have a chance, we didn’t have a chance at all. And it hurts because I have a laptop that has my children pictures in them when they were little. If anything hurts, is that!” Matthew said.

However, the most important thing, they said, is that they are still alive. For the safety of everyone else, the entire neighborhood has since been put under mandatory evacuation.

Emergency teams close monitoring of the situation and swift response on the ground has so far been effective in avoiding any casualties and preventing larger-scale devastation. Even though they’re pouring all their resources into this effort, many fires in the region are still far from being contained. Strong gusts of Santa Ana winds have sparked a number of other fires and triggered more evacuations in southern California and officials are warning everyone to remain alert.

“I want to remind people: stay vigilant please. You don’t see the wind blowing real hard right now, at least where we’re at, but you go up on the side of the hill or up in the foothills area, the winds are very erratic, so please, please, please stay vigilant,” Tracey Martinez, San Bernardino County Fire Department Public Information Officer said.

It may be too late for Wendy, who was going to celebrate her birthday today.

“I didn’t expect this many flames on my cake,” she said jokingly, holding up strong despite the tragedy.

“We’re a two-income family, so we’re like back to back on checks. And a family of six is pretty expensive to feed. We didn’t have money stashed around to be able to afford any of this stuff. But we’re going to have to make it somehow,” she added.

Some things like family pictures can’t be replaced. But for items that can be families like the Valdivias are hoping insurance companies will cover their claims without delay.