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An essay by Vickie Bradeen


October 26, 2003 (San Diego's East County)--Today is a day of bittersweet remembrance of October 26, 2003, when I watched the home I grew up in, my parents home of 34 yrs at the time, burn completely to the ground as the powerful, almost angry Cedar Fire consumed every inch of it right before my eyes.


I can’t believe that six years have already passed.


By the time it was all said and done, The Cedar Fire burned over 273,000 acres, making it the largest fire ever to burn in California. It also claimed 15 lives, including 1 firefighter and along with ours over 2,300 other homes were lost to the walls of quickly moving flames that were unstoppable.


Looking back now my family realizes how truly lucky we are and were that day. My sister and brother in law evacuated safely and their home remained and though I got Mama and Daddy out of the house with nothing but the clothes on their backs and their small dog many others lost so much more than we did on that day, the day before and the days that followed. Some even lost their replacement homes again in the 2007 Witch Creek Fire. Unimaginable.


Today as I remember the thick smoke that filled the skies and burned my eyes, and flash back to the sounds of the crackling orange flames that paralyzed my feet so I could do nothing but stand and watch in a helpless gaze, I will say a prayer for those families who lost precious members so quickly and without warning and for the others who bare the injuries they sustained while fleeing from the Monster storm. My your faith keep you strong and your Love help you to heal.


I will also say a prayer of thanks for all of the blessings that my family has received over the past 6 years. We had no idea that the worst was yet to come for us. Even though we only had Mama for 4 more years after the fires we at least were able to enjoy, love and be with each other for those 4 years. Our replacement home is a reminder that even without all of our possessions, home truly is where your family is. The rest is just stuff!


Love your family today...don't wait for a tragedy. Hug them tightly and don't ever forget who you are or where you come from. Life is short, don't waste time being selfish or materialistic. Remember to live in the moment..Live today, for no one knows what tomorrow will bring.

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