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'Gate Fire' evacuees recall escaping flames, black smoke

Mary fled her home; Lorien was on vacation
Posted at 12:27 PM, May 21, 2017

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV)--A thousand acre brush fire that sparked when temperatures soared Saturday forced the evacuation of dozens of people at the Pio Pico RV Park and Campground in Jamul.

10News reporter Jessica Chen met two women who fled the flames on Sunday at the San Diego Red Cross evacuation center set up at Otay Ranch High School.  

Mary is a five-year resident of Pio Pico and said that she had a maximum of a half hour to pack up and roll out of the park yesterday after she saw black smoke and flames on her trip to the town cafe. 

"I was kind of panicking because I've been in fires before so that really scared me," Mary said. 

Right after she saw the fire, she ran to tell her husband "but by the time [she] got to the bottom of the sidewalk, the Border Patrol came in and said 'evacuate now,'" Mary said. "It takes us a couple hours to roll up but yesterday we rolled up within 20, 30 minutes."

RELATED: 'Gate Fire' grows as containment increases

Her husband stayed behind to help others in the park but Mary and a friend evacuated right away to Wal-Mart.

Meanwhile Lorien was also spooked by the fire on her first day ever in San Diego.

"We were driving back to the Pio Pico campground and we saw fire on the rim and then lots and lots of firemen and police," Lorien said. "They stopped us and said we couldn't go to Pio Pico so we kinda drove around all day, didn't know what to do." 

But Twitter saved the day for Lorien and her family. They saw that they could go to Wal-Mart and they found much-needed snacks and water there."

"Junk food galore," Lorien said. "They were really good." 

Lorien called the experience "an adventure" and is now struggling with whether or not to return to the campgrounds to retrieve belongings or abandon their stuff for the next stop on their vacation, Los Angeles. 

"We're fine, ridiculously fine," she added. 

Sandy Coronilla is a KGTV digital producer. Follow her @10NewsSandy