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All evacuations lifted for Marek fire

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image ap"><span>AP</span></div><span class="caption-text">An aircraft drops a load of water on a wildfire. (Mike Meadows)</span></div>
October 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Firefighters finally get a break in the deadly Marek fire after erratic the Santa Ana winds died down, allowing firefighters to contain nearly 80 percent of the blaze. All evacuations have been lifted, including now Lopez Canyon.In Lake View Terrace, some residents returned to find only ashes. Valley Terrace Estates is a residential community of about 50 mobile homes. Unfortunately for many, nothing is left. Of 50 homes, only 38 remain. The rest is burned-out rubble. Those residents lost everything they had. Crews expect to have full containment of the fire by Thursday.

All evacuations have been lifted

Numbers from the Marek wildfire:
  • 80 percent contained
  • About 4,824 acres burned
  • 1,200 people evacuated
  • 38 mobile homes destroyed
  • At least 1 home destroyed
  • Transient male and his dog found dead
  • 1 firefighter injured
  • 130 homes in the San Fernando Valley are without power due to fire
Pam Marchese walks 9th Terrace, her street and one she used to know well. Now, an unfamiliar sight -- every home is destroyed, including hers. She had minutes to get out and didn't have time to take anything.

"I smelled smoke, and because I was in a fire last year and got burned, the smell of smoke triggered everything," said Marchese. "I panicked. I got out. The place was filled with smoke. I came out and looked in these hills over here -- fire." Marchese's neighborhood was the hardest hit in the Marek fire. Flames roared through, destroying everything. The strong winds whipped the fire in several directions. Some homes are nothing but twisted metal, and others melted from the intense heat.

On Tuesday, firefighters attacked hotspots and made sure there was no danger.

"Firefighters here are looking for anything that might be a health risk to the residents here before allowing them back in," said Sue Exline from the U.S. Department of Forestry. "They're looking at propane lines and gas lines and electrical lines."

Just a few yards away from where firefighters work, one home is still standing. The owner, Ken Rede, has hot hamburgers on the grill and cold drinks. It's all for the firefighters. He wants to thank them for saving his home.

"I got sodas, ice, hamburgers hot dogs for the guys," said Rede. "What else can I do?"

"Words can't describe..." said Darlene Rede. "I'd say thank you, but it's not enough. Not enough for those guys."

Meanwhile, Pam Marchese was able to find a few scraps of paper in her home -- they hold some cherished memories. She's just thankful she's okay.

"I can replace everything," said Marchese. "Oh yeah, it comes and goes. My memories are in my head. It's okay. It is replaceable. It is." All evacuations related to the Marek Fire were lifted Wednesday morning. Before Wednesday, Lopez Canyon was off limits -- to people and livestock -- and Kagel Canyon was off limits to livestock.

The Marek Fire began about 2 a.m. Sunday in a rugged area of Little Tujunga Canyon about 20 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. More than 1,200 people were evacuated out of their homes and at least 1 home and about 37 or 38 mobile homes were destroyed by the flames.

Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Mark Savage Tuesday morning expressed relief that overnight winds did not produce fierce gusts - up to 70 mph - as had been feared.

"So far, so good, but we're not done yet," he said around 5:30 a.m., adding that fire crews quickly attacked overnight flareups, keeping homes safe from the flames

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said there has been one fatality due to the wildfire on Foothill Boulevard. The victim has not been identified but appeared to be a male adult transient, according to Capt. Ed Winter of the L.A. County Coroner's Office. The victim was found in a makeshift shelter with his dog.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Authorities are investigating whether the fire, which started near a shooting range, was suspicious.

For information on the fire, traffic and shelters: (800) 439-2909



Lisa Hernandez, Amy Powell, City News Service and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

 

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