Santos and Ricardo Alvarado fled Seminole Springs in the early hours of Sunday after seeing smoke.
That evening, the father and son returned to learn that flames had reduced their home to rubble.
The wind-driven Woolsey Fire erupted near Simi Valley on Thursday and has so far charred more than 83,000 acres in Ventura and L.A. counties. It has destroyed at least 177 structures within its path, from mansions in Malibu to mobile homes along Mulholland Highway in Seminole Springs.
The men described waking up and desperately knocking on the doors of their neighbors at the resident-owned mobile home park.
“We left at 4, 5 in the morning … we ran,” Santos told KTLA as he looked at the site where his family’s home used to stand.
The father and son said they feared for Ruth, one of their neighbors in her 90s. They said she wasn’t able to drive, and that they couldn’t find her in the morning.
When they came back, they surveyed what was left of their belongings. When they found their safe underneath the remnants of their house, a number of firefighters came to help open it.
“Our citizenship…important bank papers,” Santos said as he sifted through the safe’s content.
His son spotted a crucifix he said was important to his family because it reminded them of his uncle who passed away in 2000. Ricardo also found a graduation photo he received not too long ago.
Despite their loss, Santos and Ricardo were glad to be alive.
“I have my parents.. That’s important,” Ricardo said.