Three holdouts in Silverado Canyon

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Silverado Canyon:

Silverado Canyon homeowner George Nagelin, a retired landcaper who bought his one-story home 41 years ago for $10,000, was among three stubborn residents who decided to stick it out as long as possible.

“When you get to be 80 years old, your house is all you got,” he deadpanned. “All your friends are dead.”


Nagelin and his two neighbors said it was the third straight day deputies ordered them out. As firefighting helicopters circled and columns of smoke rose above nearby canyons, the three men said they believed the evacuations were premature.

“All these firemen are up here doing their best,” Nagelin said. “We’ll be safe.”

Nagelin was joined by Ken Mason, who lives next door, and Mike Boeck, whose home sits at the end of nearby Hillside Lane. From Boeck’s property, the fire could be seen burning through a veil of smoke, high on a hillside about 1 1/2 miles to the south.

Boeck, a retired engineer, invited the other men to come over and check out the view.

Should the fire get too close, Boeck has filled 15 large rubber trash baskets with water and positioned them around his property; laid out several hoses; and has ladders and a chainsaw at the ready.

“If an ember gets up on the roof or on the house, I’ll try to douse it out. Hopefully, I can keep up,” he said.
“If a tree close to the house catches fire, I can cut it down.”

For all three, bravery has its limits. If the winds change and it comes time to run, they are packed and ready to go.

“I’m outta here if the Santa Ana winds come back,” Boeack said. “You can’t stop them. This whole canyon will go up.... I don’t want to die.”

-- Christine Hanley