LOCAL CALIFORNIA

Multiple fires are raging in Southern California. A series of Santa Ana wind-driven wildfires have destroyed hundreds of structures, forced thousands to flee and smothered the region with smoke in what officials predicted would be a pitched battle for days.

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In Indian Springs, she watched the sky light up — then, the fire spread

The Creek fire burns into the night in the Shadow Hills. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
The Creek fire burns into the night in the Shadow Hills. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Gail Thackray has lived at Indian Springs Ranch along Little Tujunga Canyon Road for about 25 years. 

She’s been through fires before, but then there was more time to evacuate.

Thackray’s mom was awake early Tuesday, worried about the wind’s banging. She looked outside and saw the nearby pylon sparking.

It looked “like one of the wires had come loose and it was smacking the hill,” Thackray said. “The wire would hit one part of the hill and that would explode and then another part of the hill. Within seconds the whole sky was lit up.”

Her 81-year-old mother called her screaming about 3:30 a.m. Thackray pulled back the curtains and saw sparks coming off the pylon and everything on fire.

“It spread each direction and we didn’t have time to get anything,” Thackray said. She lives in her house with her 12-year-old daughter; her mother lives in a cottage nearby.

When she woke her daughter, she told her they didn’t have time to grab anything, to just get in the car. She left with her mom and her daughter. 

“If we’d been asleep when it happened, we would have been gone. It was that quick,” she said.

They didn’t have time to let the horses loose and she doesn’t know whether her St. Bernard survived. 

As they left, they found themselves driving through a wall of fire, Thackray said. The fire followed them as they raced out. 

“It was faster than anything I’ve ever seen,” she said. 

Her two little ponies died, she said Wednesday, her voice breaking. Her bigger horse seems to have jumped out, but they’re unsure whether it survived.

“If we had taken an extra 30 seconds, we could have all been dead,” Thackray said.

Thackray lost her home in the fire. She also lost a guest house, a studio and her office. Her mother’s small home survived the blaze. 

“We’ll probably live there, try to get help rebuilding and try and put our life back together,” she said. “But we got ourselves out. It could have been worse.”

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