On Saturday Oct 25 2002, my neighbor asked if we were going to evacuate. That he heard it was mandatory. Being in Upland/Claremont, against the foothills, we have fires every year somewhere. They can cause a bit of nervousness..but not much more.
Over the next hour a few friends called and asked if they could help. "Naw"....I wasn't worried. But I sensed some increasing tension in the area. There was a neighborhood meeting in the afternoon, and they stated every street would have a fire truck on it in the event of a problem. And indeed Cucamonga did have that kind of coverage.
EveAnna Manley of Manley Labs called me a couple times. "You sure?" she said. I told her I would call if a problem arose.
An hour later, the fire jumped Cucamonga Canyon...and was headed our way... fast. I called and got some friends up. But by this time, the police had closed the road to anyone coming up. It took some sweet talking to get them in.
Leaving during the evacuation. You can see the ashes and embers in the air, though the fire is still off a little bit. Everyone else was getting pretty nervous, so I decided to get out with what we had. This is Jared's [now] wife Amber, holding our national sales manager, Willy.
This is Jared's white Mustang parked in front of my house. As you can see, fire is just up and over the hill. We could feel the heat and pulsations from the air moving. It roared like a jet airplane.
This is me (Kevin) doing my impersonation of Steve Martin at the end of the movie, The Jerk. I know... obscure reference, but if you get it, you'll find it funny.
After we got to the warehouse, I remembered some of the stuff that could not be replaced, so we quickly unloaded the van, and I asked for volunteers to go back up to see if we could sneak past the police and get whatever we could. I figured it was my only chance, because there was no way the house would be left standing. So Scott, EveAnna Manley, and I ran back up. We got past the police, and this is what we were greeted by. EveAnna took the pictures & video, which I thought, "What the hell for?" Now, I am glad she did.
A photographer from our local newspaper, Daily Bulletin was up snapping photos, and took this picture of me and Scott loading up some of the more rare tubes. I kept these at home instead of the locked/gated/secure cement business location, located between the police dept and fire station, away from the foothills. Dumb! They stay at the biz from now on.
EveAnna insisted I wave goodbye to my home while she took this picture. She said how sorry she was that my home was toast...and nobody expected it to be standing in an hour. As we left, there wasn't a single fire truck on our street, or the two streets adjacent. As we were driving off I said, "Do you think we should go to the fire station?" So we did, and there were about fifty firemen standing around waiting for instructions. I told them that my street was about to go up, and a structure was already on fire at the end of the street. They ignored me, and I repeated it a few more times. Finally, a guy holding a clipboard came up and said, "Which street?" I showed him on the map, and they promptly went off to put out the fire, but in the wrong direction. Not entirely their fault. It is a confusing area, and electricity had just gone out.
At the same time, our neighbor Rick went found some Pasadena firemen a couple blocks below. He pushed and pushed to have them come up. They threatened to have him arrested for raising such a ruckus, and his response was "Well, go ahead and arrest me! Maybe the Sheriffs will put out my fire!" Finally they listened, and sent some engines up. But Rick was smarter than I was, as he had them FOLLOW him. The neighborhood was saved by inches and seconds. 13 other homes were lost in my neighborhood.
Unfortunately... there were some casualties...