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Getting out of fire's path was chaos

November 16, 2008 | 12:25 pm

Tari Price, 42, described what it was like to evacuate her Yorba Linda condo in one word: "Chaos."

After being given abrupt notice Saturday morning that she had to leave the hillside condo she rents, she had time to grab only a few things.

"I told the kids to grab clean underwear and a toothbrush, so that's what we took." Her daughter, Brittany Price, 11, was able to get her pet boa into a shoebox and take it with her.

Sunday morning, Price, her four children -- the eldest is 23 -- and about a dozen other residents of the Hills condominium complex, made up of dozens of units, lingered in a Kohl's department store parking lot where they had a good vantage point of the small fires burning near their complex. For Teri Price one of the hardest things is not knowing whether her condo burned. While spending last night at her parents' house in Yorba Linda, she still doesn't know if her condo burned.

She could see the complex from where she was sitting but not her unit. The most disturbing thing was that on TV last night she saw a condo complex on fire that looked like hers, but she's still not sure.

"We're kind of freaked," said Samantha Hunt, who lives in the same complex as Price and who stayed with her friend's parents. "Being here instead of sitting in front of the TV, I can safely say it doesn't look like there's any active flames near my house," Hunt added. Tari Price said that as her family left their condo, three lanes of cars were headed downhill on a street that was usually one lane in each direction.

"It was a chaotic experience," she said. "I was watching firefighters with fire hydrants open but nothing coming out." Hunt had not changed her clothes since yesterday and was wearing a black T-shirt and black sweatpants with a stripe down the side.

--Tony Barboza