Homes destroyed; 'Everything is gone'

CHATSWORTH, Calif. Firefighters were still finishing up some hot spots late Friday afternoon near Woolsey Canyon and Valley Circle in Chatsworth. The fire was under control within 45 minutes, but not before three homes were destroyed.

Resident Lee Baingo says before he knew what was happening, his home was nearly engulfed in flames. He says he barely got out.

"Everything is gone," said Baingo. "I couldn't grab anything, it happened so fast."

When firefighters from L.A. County, L.A. City and Ventura County arrived, the fire had already ripped through two homes and was quickly moving to a third one.

"And I heard the glass break, I barely got out of my bed, I barely got into my wheelchair," said Baingo. "The back of my neck is singed. I told my cleaning lady to get out. And with the wind, it was just blowing the flames through the house. There wasn't time to grab anything. I got out with my wheelchair and my dog. I don't even have my glasses. I have nothing. Nothing."

The fire started around 1 p.m. near the top of this mobile home park and the winds whipped it around. In all, two people were hospitalized and three homes were destroyed. A fourth home was damaged, but firefighters did manage to save most of that one.

Resident Mack Warren returned to find his home destroyed.

"I just came as quickly as I could. It looked like it was already pretty much gone by the time I got here. Thank God they got my father-in-law out. He was there by himself, he is recovering from cancer. And glory be to God, he got out fine. As far as I know, he's over at West Hills hospital."

Just moments after he spoke, a neighbor arrived to tell Warren that his father-in-law had suffered a heart attack during the fire. Warren rushed away, but the good news is that his father-in-law appears to be doing okay.

Firefighters spent all afternoon trying to put out hot spots. They say these homes are in danger during these windy conditions.

"And they are close together, like modular homes are," said Asst. Chief Luke Claus from the L.A. County Fire Department. "That adds to the difficulty of putting them out, because there's no space between them, limited space between them. The wind is definitely a big factor in fighting a fire like this. A 20 mph wind will blow a lot of heat down."



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