JAMUL, Calif. (KGTV) — A Jamul woman who lost her home to the Valley Fire says her horses were likely saved thanks to fire retardant sprayed on her property.
Shelley Brown still can't believe how fast the flames were moving. By 3 p.m. Saturday, the fast-moving flames were bearing down on her home on Lawson Hills Road.
"Ashes falling down around me. I could hear the fire burning. It was scary," said Brown.
She only had time to try and round up her five dogs. One of them ran off. She also owned horses, including three she had just rescued, but she had no trailer. Faced with an impossible decision, she opened up the corral gate and released them.
"It was the worst. It was the worst. You don’t know if you’re doing the right thing," said Brown, choking back tears.
As she drove off, she says the flames were within a few hundred feet of her home. She drove up a hill. She couldn't stop thinking of her horses.
"Went to the top and cried for a little while," said Brown.
The next morning, Brown got back to the area and discovered her two mustangs in a neighbor's yard.
"So relieved. The search and rescue team helped me get them," said Brown.
Not far away, she found the remnants of her home. Her two-story home of 10 years had been destroyed, along with all her belongings.
"I felt strange and little bit eerie," said Brown.
And then, she felt joyful. About 20 feet from the burned home, standing in her yard, were the three rescue horses.
"I was shocked, so happy. Didn’t know what to expect. They weren’t singed," said Brown.
A closer look around the property one possible reason they survived: a sign of a firefight.
"They were putting retardant around the edge of the property. I can still see it, and they kind of surrounded where my horses were. I’m guessing that’s what saved them," said Brown.
A week after the flames swept the area, Brown is beginning to go through the rubble. She is thankful to fire crews.
"They are amazing. They saved my animals, and I'm so grateful," said Brown.
This week, Brown decided to buy dozens of breakfast sandwiches for firefighters.
"It's the least I can do," said Brown.
Brown, who recently inherited the home, is not yet sure if the insurance covers wildfires.
A GoFundMe campaign has been started to help her rebuild.