‘Pitch Black’: Victims Describe Terror of Escaping Tick Fire With Power Out in Santa Clarita Foothills

Firefighters hose down a burning house during the Tick Fire in Agua Dulce near Santa Clarita, Calif., on Oct. 25, 2019. (Credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

Firefighters hose down a burning house during the Tick Fire in Agua Dulce near Santa Clarita, Calif., on Oct. 25, 2019. (Credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

Mary and Charles Lindsey went to sleep to the glow of the Tick fire, but they had seen wildfires before, and their two-story home in the Santa Clarita foothills seemed safe enough. All Thursday, they hadn’t gotten a reverse-911 alert, or an emergency email, or a phone call. All had seemed quiet since 11 a.m., when Southern California Edison shut off their power.

It wasn’t until 2:30 a.m. Friday that something — maybe the whir of helicopters or perhaps the providence of God — woke Mary up. She saw the unusual light creeping through the bedroom curtains. “That’s not right,” she thought, grabbing a flashlight.

Outside, a sheriff’s deputy cruising by noticed the flashlight in the window and flicked on his siren, then shouted into the home: “It’s a mandatory evacuation!” The deputy wondered why the occupants hadn’t gotten an alert. She told him that entire section of the Stonecrest community didn’t have a clue. They were all still in their homes. “Oh, my God!” the deputy replied.

What followed, by Mary Lindsey’s recollection the next day at an evacuation center at the College of the Canyons in Valencia, was a pitch-black rush to safety for the Lindseys and dozens of their neighbors — just a microcosm of the unsettling new abnormal confronting residents in California’s sprawling wildfire country: managing emergency evacuations without lights, electrical garage doors, internet-enabled phone lines or air conditioning.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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