On Sunday, 21 Oct, there was smoke in the air at lunch time. We got updates on the fires during the NFL games through Sunday. At midnight the news reported that the fires would enter San Diego through San Pasqual Valley about 1 AM. Since we live at the far end of the valley we started packing pictures and essential clothes. At 4 AM the sky had turned red and the wind was howling so we decided to get out. Fire engines and police cars were racing down our street. I went out to look and the sky was orange from the fires behind and to the right of our house. We loaded up the cars in a storm of ash and were out by 4:15 AM.
We went to LA knowing our neighborhood had burned. On Tuesday, 23 Oct, we received a report that our house had survived and others around us had not. On Wednesday, 23 Oct we had solid evidence that our house survived from web sites listing house status by address in our area.
On Thursday, 25 Oct, our neighboorhood opened up and we moved back in. It turns out that skylights leak ash. There were piles of black ash all around our house. The pool was full of it. The house behind us burned. The house in front of us burned. Most of the houses with shake roofs burned. Lots of stucco houses with tile roofs burned. Some of Sam's friends homes burned. Having a wooden deck looks like a bad idea. Spreading bark mulch around your foundation and yard looks like an invitation to fire. Having a cement patio is a good thing. Using lots of water to keep your yard green costs a lot, but seems like a good idea.