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Willow Fire victims search for 'angel' firefighter who saved father

Posted at 4:44 PM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 20:14:53-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The family who lost their home in the Willow Fire is hoping to track down their "angel" firefighter.

"I know we lost everything, but my dad is still here. We're just so grateful," said Gwendolyn Pavlick.

Two days later, an emotional Pavlick shared details of her father's narrow escape from the flames. That Wednesday night, her mother was staying with her in Carlsbad. Her father Doug was fast asleep in his home on Wind River Road in Rancho San Diego, when the fire started. It raced up a hill within minutes. Doug woke up to a loud knock.

"By the time he got to the door, the kitchen was on fire. The fireman said, 'You have to go.' When he ran upstairs to get keys and wallet, the fire went through the windows of his bedroom," said Pavlick.

Gwendolyn says her father has dealt with back and foot issues.

"My dad, who couldn’t run physically, somehow, at that moment, could," said Pavlick.

Doug was able to drive away to safety. From a distance, he watched as his home of 33 years burned. Six other homes were damaged from the heat and smoke.

"It’s heart-wrenching because that house was in our lives so long, it feels like a family member," said Pavlick.

On Thursday, Gwendolyn and her parents surveyed the damage, nearly everything lost, including thousands of family photos. Outside the home, they prayed. Gwen's mother told her they will rebuild.

"After seeing the house, the first thing she said was, 'God gave us this house. He’s going to give it to us again,'" said Pavlick.

As for their biggest blessing - her father's safety - Gwendolyn is now trying to find the mystery firefighter who woke her father.

"I just want to tell him, 'Thank you so much for saving my dad's life.' I don’t know if he is real or an angel," said Pavlick.

The home is insured. Pavlick says very little was salvageable. Among the countless things lost: wrapped presents intended for victims of the Valley Fire in September.

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