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Stuck in the car with the pets overnight

Green Valley Lake:

Judy Whitner, 39, was sleeping in her car late Monday afternoon as she awaited word about the home she bought about a month ago in the Green Valley Lake area, between Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear. That morning, she and her son, Jamie, 15, quickly gathered some photographs, their two dogs, a neighbor's cat and dog and some of their neighbors' belongings as firefighters swarmed their neighborhood to confront the flames that had already engulfed two homes.

She believed she'd be stuck sleeping in the car because of the animals, who were not permitted inside the shelter. Her son was staying with a friend at a motel.

It wouldn't surprise her to lose her new home.

"I still have boxes left in there," she said. "I haven't even finished unpacking."

"Just as quickly as I was hoping to move into my house, I guess the fire can move me out of it."

She's lived in the area since 1996, but this is the first home she's ever owned. During the last fire in the area, she panicked.

"This time around I'm taking a different approach. Whatever happens, I have no control."

-- Paul Pringle

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