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Sayre fire victims gather to remember

November 15, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A year ago, the Sayre fire roared through the Oakridge Mobile Home Park in Sylmar, destroying close to 500 homes. Sunday night, residents and first responders gathered to share their memories and their survival stories.It is known as one of the most devastating fires in Los Angeles history.

Nearly 500 homes in the Oakridge Mobile Home Park were destroyed last November when the Sayre fire ripped through this neighborhood.

Marie Larsen and her roommate Barbara Goetzinger narrowly escaped the flames.

"I was in bed sleeping, and all of a sudden, I'm hearing this bang, bang, bang on our front door, and I thought that they're going to break the glass window. So, I got up and it was the fire department, and the coach next to me was totally on fire," recalls Larsen, who lost her home to the fire.

It took a team of firefighters to carry Goetzinger out, and Sunday night during a special event commemorating the one year anniversary of the fire, Larsen will meet those first responders again.

"It will probably be very emotional for me because I owe them so much, I have my roommate," said Larsen.

"So many people are moving back into the establishment. On one hand, it's a celebration of their resilience and the recovery process, and on the other hand, it's also to recall the memories and make a commitment to move forward," said L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon.

Also celebrating their survival Sunday were sisters Pam and Cher Dibble.

They lost their home in the Sayre fire and also nearly lost their grandfather's badge.

George Damron was a Los Angeles firefighter, killed in the line of duty more than 70 years ago.

Saturday, the sisters were presented with a brand new badge.

"Oh, it made me proud, so at least we have something. They also gave us a flag, and the flag is beautiful. So in our new home, we have a space already picked out for it," said Pam Dibble.

Miraculously, no one was actually in the Sayre fire, and many residents have already started moving back into their rebuilt homes.

Most residents should be moved back into the neighborhood by the end of the year.


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