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Gold Creek Road residents who refused to evacuate survive Station fire


Five people who refused to leave Gold Creek Road when the area was evacuated made it through the Station fire.

"They survived; they made it through," said Mark Savage of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The five residents created quite a drama Monday when the fire moved closer to their homes. After defying the evacuation order issued over the weekend, some of the residents changed their minds and asked to be rescued.

The problem is there is no way to get to them. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department considered sending a helicopter up to get them, but fire officials determined it would be too dangerous.

Later in the day, there was word the group didn't want to be rescued.

It's unclear if all their properties survived the flames.

Officials have expressed concern over the last few days about residents refusing to evacuate as the Station fire neared their homes. In Big Tujunga Canyon, three people were burned Saturday when they tried to protect their homes from the flames. Two of them tried to evade the fire by jumping into a hot tub.

-- Ari B. Bloomekatz at Hansen Dam

Photo: Jack Johnson, 77, a 30-year resident of Gold Creek Road, gets a hug from friend Suzette Brantley, 37, as they finally begin to relax after several harrowing days fighting to save Johnson's ranch.

Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

More photos > > >

Comments () | Archives (37)

I'm glad they survived, but I'm sick of people who defy warnings and then endanger rescuers. I hope they learned something.

Interesting point Tara. Why did they stay behind? Was it truly to protect their kennel? I get angry and upset as do many of the other people posting their opinion about firefighters and others being put in danger due to their refusal to evacuate, but it is interesting to know why, and important to realize we were not there and have not walked in their shoes.

If you refuse to stop to a Police order to stop, they arrest you, then you have to pay in order to get out from jail and then you get to give a judge a reasonable explanation for your acting.
Which, overall, I think is correct.

If you refuse to obey to a MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER from the Fire Department, what do you get? Nothing... actually not, you have the chance sometime later to change your mind and ask for the firemen to come back, risk THEIR precious life and take you away. Isn't unfair? Shouldn't those guy now be arrested for refusing to obey to a MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDER? If not, I guess we should ask the Fire Department to avoid the "MANDATORY" part.

I realize that people do have their personal reasons for not evacuating. I understand that they have property and animals that they are attached to and don't want to leave them behind. Think about this for a while, they don't want to leave property and pets behind, I don't want my husband and the father of our two children to put his life on the line for property and pets. I am sure that any of the people fighting this fire wants their loved ones to come home- ALIVE. My husband is actively fighting that fire along with thousands of other firefighters. Please leave your property behind so that the firefighter's lives are not put at risk. We have animals and property but we will not risk other peoples lives for our possessions. God Bless the firefighters and watch over them.

They should have to pay for their own rescue. They're the ones who made the choice not to evacuate. I don't think tax payers money should be used to save them if it was their choice not to obey orders.

To the jackass luisjimenez: How dare you imply that the brave law enforcement personnel who risk their lives to save dumb Asses like you would have a sinister ulterior motive. Such a statement only reflects badly on you and your loser mentality.

Even if you don't trust the fire fighters to do their jobs to the best of their ability--which, by the way, doesn't include preserving your home no matter what the cost--staying behind when you aren't actually equipped to fight the fire isn't the answer. You can't really even fight a basic house-fire in a wood structured building with a garden hose. There's no way you're going to be able to take on a forest fire, with flames reaching 100 ft. high in some cases, with no training an no equipment. If you're arrogant enough to try, fine. That's your right but don't get all bent out of shape when people call you an idiot for trying to go after an elephant with a fly swatter.

Luis.. you are PARANOID! You really think these guys are evacuating you so they can 'help themselves' to your stuff?? C'mon now!!!
I went the through the Day Fire in 2006 and the last thing on my mind while being evacuated was whether my plasma would be there when I got home.. ALIVE!!!

Jack Johnson and the others at Gold Creek Ranch did not ask to be rescued nor did they wish to be rescued. They have been through several fires in the past. They were aware of the danger and chose to defend a home they love and many, many others of us in the LA area love as well.

As a former resident of a rural area of Los Angeles, I identify with some residents refusal to leave their homes and lives in the hands of strangers. I have fought, and won the battle against more than one fire. It's important to asses the risk before doing so. If there is not adequate clearance, and nothing but a garden hose, it would be suicide. The fire department should charge for the rescue, and if someone is injured during that rescue, then the liability should rest on the occupant's shoulders. I had 100 ft of clearance, and 10,000 gallons of water, as well as a auxillary gas powered pump. Most do not have any notion of what they are getting into. If you decide to take matters into your own hands, do the homework, and have a plan.

Some say "they did not ask to be rescued!" Well that DOESN'T matter. A firefighter's job is to protect people first and foremost. You can't expect them to feel alright with letting someone burn alive because they "didn't ask to be rescued". They may not have, but the firefighters will risk their own lives anyway, because that's their job!

Their job is to save lives. You can't just say "ignore me, if I burn I burn!" Saving people from fires is an extremely emotional job, and those firefighters get pretty damn upset when they can't reach people who may be dying.

For God's sake, when you ignore a mandatory evacuation, YOU RISK OTHER PEOPLE'S LIVES. Is that really worth saving your pets? Would these people be able to look others in they eye and say to them "I know those firefighters are needed to dig containment lines, but my pets are more important"?

Looking at that picture of them smiling makes me very angry.

I am fine with the concept of residents wanting to take the risk of staying with their home to try to defend it even though there has been a mandatory evacuation order. I believe at that point, then, they should be willing to suffer the possible consequence of burning to death. If they defy the order, then they do not get to change their minds and expect rescue at the last minute, placing firefighters in even more extreme danger. There comes a point when the fire fighters have to - MUST - say NO.

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