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Barefoot teen escapes from flames of Lyons Fire in Jamul

Group creates firebreak in minutes to help stop spread
Barefoot teen escapes from flames of Lyons Fire in Jamul
Posted at 4:11 PM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 20:45:43-04

JAMUL, Calif. (KGTV) - An East County family is recounting a teenage girl’s harrowing moments as she escaped the flames of the Lyons Fire on Tuesday.

SDG&E cameras showed thick, black smoke and the growing fire early Tuesday evening. That smoke was spewing from the rented trailer home of Dean Higginbotham and Heather Rigby on Lyons Creek Road in Jamul.

They were outside tending to the horses. Inside the home in her bedroom was their 13-year-old daughter, Jadeyn.

“She said her room started filling with smoke real fast,” said Rigby.

The couple says Jadeyn covered her face with a shirt and make a run for it, barefoot.

“She had to run all the way up into the hallway — where the flames were starting to come into — to get to the door that was open there,” said Rigby.

Outside, Jadeyn found her parents. The family put water on the fire, to no avail. They collected their animals, including goats and dogs, and released their three horses.

Minutes later, neighbors showed up with shovels.

“Cutting the brush and breaking the brush in a line,” said Higginbotham.

Higginbotham and several neighbors frantically created a firebreak before fire crews arrived. That firebreak is where the flames stopped. The fire was held to one acre.

“If the fire kept going uphill, could have really gotten out of control,” said Higginbotham.

While the fire didn't spread, it claimed the family's home of six years.

“We’re pretty emotionally numb right now,” said Rigby.

The family lost everything, including heirlooms from Rigby's deceased mother.

“A lot of the family pictures. A lot of the jewelry from her mother was burned. Kinda rough,” said an emotional Higginbotham.

They didn't have renters insurance, but they are grateful.

“We all made it out safely. Couldn’t ask for anything else,” said Higginbotham.

The couple recovered their horses, but two of their cats remain missing.

The cause of the fire hasn't been determined but the couple believes the fire started in their bedroom, which housed an air conditioning unit.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help the family with expenses.

Neighbors have also stepped forward, donating supplies, including clothes and school supplies.

“The support from our community has been amazing,” said Rigby.