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Hi all,

We awoke Monday morning at 5:53 AM to the call of a neighbor telling us we should evacuate our home as the fire, which the previous night was 20 miles away, was coming over the hills towards us. The 50-70 MPH Santa Ana winds had pushed the fire faster and farther than anyone would have ever imagined. This fire would come to be known as the "Witch Fire".

We had about 30 minutes to pack up a few clothes, grab the family photos, and evacuate our home. We packed our kids and our stuff into our 1 month old Enclave at headed out of the fire area. If you have watched the fire coverage at all, you may have seen the poor TV news reporter (Larry Himmel) who reported live as his own home burned to the ground. Well, his house was about 1.5 miles to the north of where we live. And this area is adjacent to the community called Rancho Bernardo where ultimately 400 homes would be lost to the fire.

As we drove out of our neighborhood, the winds were blowing like crazy, trees were blown over, and the air was thick with ash and smoke. Inside our Enclave the air was good. We were concerned that we might lose our home. The roads in every direction getting out of our neighborhood were packed with other families evacuating. It was quite a crazy scene -- roads that are normally clear were backed up in every direction, trees lying across the road. Leaves debris flying around. And all of us sitting in our SUVs and Minivans, sitting there trying to get out. The flames were not in view, but fresh smoke was rising into the sky from not too distant.

We used the Onstar service to find out which roads were open -- the Onstar lady got back to us after a few minutes delay, but unfortunately her information was not much better than what we already had. Still, it was reassuring to know that Onstar was there.

Our previous vehicle was an 11 year old minivan with 140,000 miles. And my wife had grown not too fond of this vehicle as she places a high value on her confidence in the reliability. As we drove out of the fire area, with our kids safely in the back of the Enclave, she said to me with tears welling in her eyes, and relief in her voice, that she was so happy we had gotten the Enclave and all of all the safety and other features.

We evacuated to downtown SD, right next to Petco Park where the San Diego Padres play. This area is unfamiliar to us. We used the Navigation system a lot to find Pharmacies, stores to buy stuff for the kids, air purifiers, etc. I grabbed my laptop on my way out of the house, but not the charger, so I found a Radio Shack and the Nav system took me there perfectly and I got a charger. These Nav systems are outstanding and were so useful during this time. We were unfamiliar with the roads and what stores were near us.

Yesterday, the National Guard and Police let us back into our homes. We found things much better than expected with lots of smoke and soot outside the house, but not too much inside the house. It's good to be home. That said, I have friends and colleagues who have lost their homes.

I will upload a photo of the Enclave parked in the Shadow of Petco park. Also, I uploaded a video I took of the TV news showing the fire:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=6vs6El589_I

By the way my user name is "dwhsd" well, the "sd" stands for San Diego. Now you know.

We love our Enclave!
 

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Glad to hear you and your family are ok....we have been praying for you!
 

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A touching story, glad you are ok. Thanks for posting, it helps to keep things in perspective.
 

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Is your Enclave a red jewel? If so, I think somebody has taken a picture of the front of it outside that stadium and posted it on here. Already famous, you are. Just wondered how the tightness of the windows and doors worked in keeping the dust out. Good or poor?
 

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From the security of our home in Pennsylvania my wife and I watched the nightly news coverage of the wildfires with mounting horror at the puny efforts of man to cope with the relentless force of nature. We've had the pleasure of visiting the San Diego area, driving along the coast and through some of the beautiful areas inland, so the scenes of devastation were even more real to us. Your firsthand account, like that of the unfortunate newsman losing his own house, adds a personal and human element to the broader tradgedy. I'm glad to read that your tale has a happier ending. As we watched coverage of the evacuations, we tried to imagine leaving our own home of 25 years with less than an hour's notice and wondered what we would take and how many irreplacable possessions would be left behind. Your story has made me, and hopefully others, more appreciative of our own good fortune. Thank you for sharing it.
 
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