Congregation of Grace Baptist Church lends a helping hand and cleans up LARC Ranch on Bouquet Canyon
With the Agua Dulce fire moving rapidly back on Sunday afternoon, the LA County Fire Department came to LARC Ranch to tell them they needed to evacuate. There was no time, and Executive Director Kathleen Sturkey said that they told her she had 20 minutes. But, there was no possible way that the LARC staff could evacuate 102 people in such a little time.
The Agua Dulce fire had jumped Sierra Highway and was already on Bouquet Canyon Road. Meanwhile, Sturkey gathered the residents into the multipurpose room and did role-call several times. Outside, the firefighters fought off the flames. The residents watched the firefighters battle the blaze on top of their own roofs.
There also were several explosions, and while the residents were afraid, Sturkey said there was no hysteria. Once they got a chance, the residents were moved to Golden Valley High School where they stayed in the brand new gymnasium.
Sturkey says that they lost their pool house and their 100 year old original ranch house. "Although we lost some buildings, its okay. Everyone is safe, and that's all that matters."
After the fire was put out, Sturkey went back to see the ranch. "There was soot and black everywhere. It was like night."
Meanwhile, at the evacuation site at Saugus High, Mike Gaston from Grace Baptist Church had met with and talked to Gail Ortiz of the City of Santa Clarita, and was told of the situation. He immediately contacted the congregation, and organized a team to go down to LARC Ranch on Bouquet Canyon Road and start cleaning up.
From Grace Baptist pastors to custodians, everyone gathered together to help. And as of Wednesday afternoon, the LARC residents came home.
Carried in city buses, and escorted by the Sheriff's department, the residents were welcomed home.
Sturkey says that she could never thank the fire department enough. "They were like angels of God, they came to protect us. They truly saved us."