Off-Ramp host John Rabe spent Monday morning on the periphery of the Sand Fire. He talked with a man who had been sheltering at William S. Hart High School in Santa Clarita, then with two women at the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center, which has been sheltering horses and other animals.
When Mark Kellum moved to California from Texas two years ago, he thought it would be paradise. “I didn’t realized that paradise came with these risks,” Kellum laughs, as we talked Monday at a Red Cross emergency shelter set up at William S. Hart High School in Santa Clarita.
On Friday, as he was driving back from work to his home on San Canyon Road, he saw a huge plume of smoke.
“[The fire] was about two canyons behind in the Tujunga Canyon direction. I did not think it would climb over the small mountains and threaten our group of homes,” Lellum says. “There is a family that lives three-quarters of a mile up on an elevated plateau, and it was right in their backyard. That family enjoys having parties on the weekend and I felt really saddened.”
Kellum, his family and his pets evacuated as soon as they could that evening, then waited in a queue of cars for about an hour to leave. Kellum really appreciates the generosity of his new community — like the tandoori chicken brought over by a restaurant called An Indian Affaire in Valencia, one of a hundred meals it provided for evacuees.
And it’s not just people that have had to evacuate from the Sand Fire. Heather Harris and Kiley Lampier received a group message about evacuating the horses at Hamilton Equestrian Group from Tricia Hamilton. Quickly, members of the group coordinated this evacuation of dressage horses, bringing them to the stalls at the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center, where Lampier says some 200 horses are being sheltered.
The animals behaved well, under the circumstances. “[Horses] are not used to being moved off the ranch a lot,” Lampier says. “Some go off more often than others, but generally none of them are moved at midnight."
“We are really unhappy about it. It is a very scary situation, but this is the fourth time we have done it,” Lampier says. Recently, “we did it three times in one year. It’s because we live at the edge of the Angeles Crest National Forest. When there is a fire under these conditions, they are often hard to control because there is so much open land.”
For the most recent information on the Sand Fire and other fires in Southern California, make sure to visit the KPCC Fire Tracker.
Click on the audio players (above) to listen to John's full interviews with Mark Kellum and Heather Harris & Kiley Lampier.