'It was pretty wild'
Tonya Saleda, 42, was operating on just three hours of sleep as she returned home to Avalon with her 7-year-old daughter, Emily, who has asthma, husband Jim and their dog, Honey.
"It was pretty wild. ... It looked like it was snowing, there was so much ash," said Saleda, who manages a hotel on the Catalina waterfront.
She described streets filled with people carrying their pets to safety and covering their faces to protect against the smoke. Saleda grabbed a backpack and small suitcase crammed with clothes, birth certificates and Emily's stuffed baby hedgehog.
Judee Myers, 61, and her husband Rick, a 62-year-old doctor, both from Sacramento, had to cut their honeymoon short when they were evacuated from their waterfront hotel. "It was like Dunkirk," said Rick Myers of the evacuation from Avalon, referencing the Allied flotilla that evacuated troops from mainland Europe as the Nazis advanced.
His wife's escape plan was for them to jump out of their hotel room window into the ocean. He had other ideas.
"We've got the bar and we've got the water," he said, adding that he opted to "have another cocktail."