This week's wildfires in California have affected many communities in the southern part of the state, all the way from Malibu (north of Los Angeles), Moreno, Rancho Bernado, Spring Valley, down to the San Diego area. The fires had burned as many as 161-thousand hectares and nearly two-thousand homes across seven counties. Many people have taken refuge in Qualcom Stadium until they are allowed to go back to their homes.
Among those affected are Laotian-American Anourack Soukhaserm and his family, who reside in Spring Valley. Luckily, they have relatives to go to for help, so they did not end up in Qualcom Stadium. Anourack discussed his family's flight to safety in a telephone interview with VOA.
"The fire that affected our area is called The Harris Fire which started from the border of Mexico, in the Tacate area, and moved onward up north to the San Diego area. I got a reverse 911 call telling us to evacuate within 15 minutes. Police officers came to knock at individual house to inform people to leave. This is an excellent system set up by the local government to rescue people in a small group and by community to community."
I had only 15 minutes or so to prepare to evacuate. I took only the most important documents, medicines and other neccessary things because I've two young children and an elderly mother-in-law."
"On Sunday, the fire was still far from my area. So I went to work on Monday until I was released early, around 3:00 pm, and I came home to prepare and get ready to evacuate in case the fire gets closer. And it did and we had to evacuate by 6:00 pm that evening."
Fortunately for the Soukhaserm family, the fire bypassed their community, and they were allowed to go home the next evening.
VOA will try to bring you stories about Lao-American victims of the California wildfires, if any, in our next segment.
Listen to our audio files for more of our interview with Anourack Soukhaserm.