Carson Richert was home alone Monday. His wife was visiting her daughter and with a day all to himself, he decided he would work on his Corona home’s manicured lawn.
He was busy toiling away when he suddenly realized he was in trouble. Less than a few hundred yards from his home, the Canyon Fire had burned its way over the hillside near San Ramon Drive and was ready to pounce on the homes in the exclusive Corona community.
“I didn’t even know the fire was going on,” said Richert on Wednesday when he returned to his home after Corona fire and police officials lifted a mandatory evacuation order late that morning.
With only enough time to grab a few things, Richert left his home and hoped for the best.
When he briefly returned Tuesday — firefighters had let residents walk in to their homes to retrieve belongings — he realized his was one of the few homes to sustain damage during the wildfire, although it wasn’t completely evident from outside.
A fire had begun in Richert’s attic and firefighters already protecting his neighbors’ homes turned their attention to the place Richert and his family have called home for nearly 30 years.
Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi explained to Richert and his neighbor, Pasha Syed, that most likely, an ember from the wildfire made its way into the attic and began to burn inside the walls. How the attic fire was sparked is still under investigation.
Firefighters had to break the glass inlay in his front door to get inside and then they had to cut into the ceiling and pull down insulation to get to the fire.
“This is incredible,” said Syed as the two long-time friends stood in Richert’s bedroom surrounded by insulation that looked like dirty, soggy cotton candy.
Although in shock, Concialdi pointed out that none of Richert’s photos or personal belongings was destroyed and that his home was still standing.
“The important things are still here,” Richert said Wednesday.
The Canyon Fire quickly grew Monday to 2,000 acres but firefighters from several agencies across the Southland including from Los Angeles County Fire, Chula Vista Fire, Cathedral City Fire and Compton Fire departments were able to keep the wildfire from growing any larger. As of Wednesday afternoon, the fire was 20 percent contained.
Throughout Wednesday afternoon, neighbors steadily trickled by Richert’s home to provide him words of encouragement.
Still seemingly overwhelmed at the current condition…