Fire victims talk about losing mobile homes

Police are expected to resume their house to house search today of the Oakridge Mobile Home Park in Sylmar, where nearly 500 homes burned over the weekend. There are no reports of missing persons, but police say they're not absolutely sure everyone got out alive. Fire swept through the foothill village late Friday night and early Saturday morning. KPCC's Frank Stoltze spoke with two residents who lost their homes.

Cathy Crockett: Cathy Crockett. I lived at space 396 at the Oakridge Mobile Home Park, and I lived there for 15 years.

Alicia Valcarce: Alicia Valcarce. I lived in space 286 of Oakridge Mobile Home Park, and I lived there for four years. Cathy called me at about 11:30 at night, telling me that there was a fire on Sayre.

Crockett: Yeah, and by that time, they'd also been coming around, you know, with the megaphones saying, you know, to evacuate. And I had a cat that I couldn't find, so I'm going around with a couple of flashlights in my hands trying to find this one cat, and of course I would not leave without her. And so we finally found her, and got her squared away.

Valcarce: It was pretty windy. I mean, my car was shaking, and if you opened the door, it would try to close itself. So, they were pretty intense.

Crockett: My mom had moved out two weeks previously because she was elderly, so she is now living in a boarding care. There were things of her that I couldn't take. (crying) Couldn't fit in the car. I wish I had gotten out some of her paintings she used to paint.

Valcarce: Really didn't think we were going to lose our home, so I wish I would have taken more photographs. My mother had passed away in February, and I don't even know if I even have a photograph of her.

Frank Stoltze: There are a lot of folks, of course, who have no idea what this community was like.

Valcarce: I think the prettiest thing about it was, when you drive in the park, you see these beautiful foothills, and I guess I never really appreciated them until now. But it was very nice. Everybody had nice, manicured lawns, and everybody was very friendly.

Crockett: Yeah, it was a great, great mobile home community, you know, and it's kind of like a little bug-a-boo with us where, you know, we hear all the media, like on TV, saying "trailer park." And these were big homes, you know? I had 1,500 square feet, you know?

We had a beautiful clubhouse. I think maybe the best thing, though, is it felt safe and peaceful. You know, it was a gated community, and, you know, it was quiet. You know, we did have a lot of older people, but it wasn't exclusively, you know, like a senior park. We had younger people too, and children, and, you know, it was very mellow and peaceful.

Stoltze: Where will you all go now?

Crockett: I mean, I'm staying with a friend, but ultimately, I'm not sure if I'm gonna go back to Oakridge or not. You know, it might be too hard.

Valcarce: I have to think about that, because I'm a teacher, and there's not a lot of jobs in California, so I may be exiting California, so, I don't know yet.

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