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Road-trippers save their dogs — and ditch their Civic — as they flee Rye fire

Roy and Yolanda DeFilippis, and their Yorkies: Spike, Zoey, Lacey, Madison, Spencer, Mickey, Sammy and Snickers. (Jaclyn Cosgrove / Los Angeles Times)
Roy and Yolanda DeFilippis, and their Yorkies: Spike, Zoey, Lacey, Madison, Spencer, Mickey, Sammy and Snickers. (Jaclyn Cosgrove / Los Angeles Times)

Over the thousands of miles traversed on a weeks-long road trip that started in Nova Scotia and passed through Simi Valley, Florida retiree Roy DeFilippis, 69, and his wife Yolanda, 66, had faced many challenges.

Their RV broke down in Kingman, Ariz., and again en route to Simi. Roy almost lost control of the motor home driving down a mountain. 

Then, fire.

On Tuesday afternoon, at a campground west of Santa Clarita, Roy DeFilippis was watching TV, deciding whether to drink more coffee or switch to beer. “And all of a sudden, we hear sirens and sirens, and police came out and told me us we had to evacuate,” he said.

The DeFilippis stepped outside and saw flames as tall as their RV. 

They ensured their most precious cargo — their eight Yorkshire terriers — was in the motor home and rushed onto Highway 126.

They left behind the Honda Civic they’d been towing. There was no time to hook it up.

The Rye fire has burned 7,000 acres and destroyed at least one structure. 

On Wednesday, as 575 firefighters worked to contain the 7,000-acre fire, farmers and field workers continued their morning routines. Sprinklers watered a variety of crops, and citrus trees soaked up the sun. 

Rich Brocchini, the public information officers for Cal Fire Team No. 6, said the fire is only 5% contained and urged residents to pay attention to Cal Fire’s online updates. 

“Please stay updated,” he said. “This is going to be a pretty significant wind event for the next couple days.”

Late Wednesday morning, the DeFilippis parked in a gravel lot between Santa Clarita and Fillmore, waiting for the campground to reopen at noon. They weren’t sure whether their car survived. 

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