When she left her house about 6 a.m., Carmen Solano didn’t know a brush fire had erupted near the neighborhood where she worked. So she left for her job, with coffee and pan in hand.
She’d filled her red backpack with tortillas, bananas, water and lunch for the day before heading to a home she cleaned weekly on Robinwood Drive. When Solano arrived, via a taxi shared with other housekeepers, the hillside neighborhood lined with multimillion-dollar homes was already choked with debris from the Getty fire.
“There’s a lot of smoke,” the driver observed, as he dropped off the Guatemalan immigrant. Normally, Solano works at the home on Wednesday, but the owner needed to switch and asked her to come on Monday.
Dressed in a pink sweater and pink sweatpants, she rang the doorbell over and over, hoping someone was inside. By her feet, a jack-o’-lantern grinned. As she waited at the front door, she realized she’d either left her phone on her dresser at home or in the taxi.
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