Rancho Bernardo Evacuees Return To Homes With Police Escorts

Rancho Bernardo residents evacuated due to the region's raging wildfires were given police escorts into their neighborhoods Wednesday to quickly grab possessions -- and they found mostly devastation.

Mark Davis, who lives on Aguamiel Road south of Lake Hodges, said he knew from a friend by late Monday that his house had been destroyed.

"We kind of thought when we left it did not have much of a chance," Davis said.

Davis said he didn't get a reverse 911 call notifying him to evacuate, but he woke up early Monday, smelled smoke and saw flames outside.

Asked if it was tough to lose the home he'd lived in for 28 years, Davis said, "It is, but everybody is safe."

Ironically, Davis said he had just finished putting a tile roof on the home. He said he plans to rebuild.

Davis said he lost his family photos, but his parents have copies.

On another badly damaged street, the 17800 block of Corazon Place, lines of homes were destroyed by fire.

One home left standing overlooking Lake Hodges had wood-shingle siding and only one broken window.

San Diego police Officer Guy McElroy said 16 or 17 motorcycle officers and some in patrol cars were escorting residents into the neighborhood and then escorting them back out, since the area remains off limits.

One woman McElroy brought in, Rita Sorrentino, said she left before the main evacuation Monday. Her husband works in fire-rescue.

"I only got clothes for a day or two," Sorrentino said. "We didn't think we'd be out this long."

Sorrentino said she got more clothing during her brief visit to her still-standing duplex in the 10800 block of Matinal Circle.

"My daughter wanted fruit. So I got that," the woman said.

Sorrentino said her family originally went to a friend's home in Del Mar, got evacuated again and went to a friend's home in Golden Hill. They are now staying in Escondido, which is closer to their home.

Earlier in the day, some residents of the West Bernardo area of Rancho Bernardo area were left wondering if their homes had survived.

Julian Hicks said he saw the solar panels of his Moon Song Court home on an overhead television shot and knew it had survived the flames.

Hicks said the evacuation from the neighborhood went smoothly but took awhile.

"People were just very calm and peaceful," Hicks said.

Resident Randy Bentley said his home had survived the flames, "as far as we know."

"It's not on the list (of lost structures)," Bentley said.

The list of lost homes included 29 on Moon Song Court.

Near the intersection of Andanza Way and Valladares Drive, home after home was burned to the ground, and many were damaged.

In the 17900 block of Aguamiel Road -- which backs into open space -- eight houses in a row were burned to the ground.

On Danza Circle, a cul-de-sac, four houses burned, with one structure in the middle of the four still standing, illustrating the random destruction that occurs in a firestorm.

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