The Allens, former residents of
But Monday night, as fires and monstrous gusts of wind bashed
"The winds were howling and we couldn't hear the fire trucks coming up the mountain. My wife went outside and saw the fire trucks and heard the sirens," said Allen, whose daughter,
The Allens managed to get Lily, their Bernese mountain dog, as well as some clothes and jewelry in their frantic dash. They made it off the mountain and found a place to spend the night.
But if they hadn't heard those sirens, "It would've been bad, definitely," he said. "I don't know how everybody was able to get out. We had an elderly couple down the road. They were trying to get their dog in a car. The wind was blowing so hard it blew her up against her house."
On Wednesday, the fires had been tamped down enough that the Allens were finally allowed back to their home. It was gone.
"There was nothing but the foundations and debris. Everything's gone," Allen said. "There are like 300 homes in the area we lived in, and 76 of them burned. Ours was one of them."
For now, the Allens are safe in a motel in nearby
"That's the process we have to go through, with the insurance company and then make a decision about what we want to do. We love this area. It's a great place to live and good people," Allen said.
Allen also had a message for those in his former hometown and elsewhere, those seeing images of the destruction on the television or in their newspaper.
"My message to your readers would be that there are a lot of people up here who are worse off than me. We're safe, we have insurance, we'll get through this. If anybody wants to help, they can make donations to the
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