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Stubborn, but it pays off

Modjeska Canyon, eastern Orange County:

Susan Hand, who lives in Modjeska Canyon, left Tuesday morning after a firefighter came to her home and said, "You need to leave now." She jumped in the car with her son, Sam, 14, and two dogs, D.O.G. and Marley, not even remembering to bring her purse.

Susan's husband, Steve Hand, and their 16-year-old son, Steven, were supposed to follow in another car. But as Susan drove away, she turned around and saw only flames licking the left side of the road.

She couldn't reach her husband because there was no cellphone reception in the canyon.

It wasn't until a few hours later -- after Steve hiked up a nearby mountain to find cellphone reception -- that Susan learned that her husband had stayed to spray the house down. Steve, who works for Leatherwood Construction, had driven to his job site Monday and picked up a large fire hose, just in case. When his wife left Tuesday, he connected the hose to a sidewalk fire hydrant and sprayed his home and a handful of others on Harding Canyon Road.

Steve told Susan that their house was fine, but that others on the street had burned to the ground.

"My dad is so stubborn. He wanted to protect our house," said daughter Jessica, 23. "I can't even believe it. But thank goodness for his stubbornness."

-- My-Thuan Tran

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