Music Teachers Watched Fire From Home

Originally published on Sept. 16, 2009

It was the first time that GCC music professors Byron and Clare Delto had been so close to a fire. But from their home in Sunland the Deltos had front-row seats to the blazing flames of the Station Fire on Aug. 29.

A voluntary evacuation was issued to residents in the Tujunga area that Saturday morning. The Deltos had prepared for the possibility that the evacuation would become mandatory. They had packed all their necessities and personal belongings and had placed them by the door.

“We were nervous for a couple of days. It was only about a half-mile from our house, so we had everything ready to go just in case,” Byron said.

Even as the fire seemed to threaten their neighborhood, the evacuation in the Tujunga area never became mandatory. They opted to stay and brace themselves for the possibility of the fire coming into contact with their home. It never did, but, they did experience some minor repercussions of the fire.

One effect of the fire was excessive ash fall in the area.

“It was like being in a smoke cloud. It was very bad, and it was pretty thick,” Byron said.
With large quantities of ash fall, the Deltos were essentially breathing smoke for the next three days. Although the couple did leave the air conditioning on while the fire ravaged the area, this only filtered the smoky atmosphere and did not help in actually clearing it.

“We were watching the fire every minute we were home,” Byron said of the days that the fire affected the area, which proved stressful for them.

The stress affected Clare in the evenings, as she was constantly thinking about the danger the fire posed.

“It was very hard to sleep at night, especially because I had a view out my bedroom window of the fire. I would finally fall asleep then wake up to check if the fire moved,” she said.

When the fire stopped burning in the Tujunga area, the Deltos spent four to five hours cleaning up the ashes that polluted their residence. Ashes coated their patio, deck and all outside furniture.

Despite the stress they experienced from their proximity to the fire, both Byron and Clare were optimistic about the entire situation.

“Sometimes we have unfortunate events that happen and we just have to be prepared,” Clare said.

The Deltos just bought their home in Sunland this past April, and while there is the continual threat of fires in their area, they recognize that fires can happen anywhere. They have fire insurance for their residence, and are fond of their house and neighbors.

The Deltos’ home is now out of danger, but the couple repeatedly emphasized how they felt that the fire’s impact on them was relatively minor compared to that on others, including GCC’s own Ken Gray, who unfortunately lost his home Big Tujunga Canyon.

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