San Diego photographer nearly loses his life to Lilac Fire

Posted at 6:29 AM, Dec 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-09 09:33:45-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A San Diego man found himself face-to-face with flames from the Lilac Fire and barely made it out alive.

10News Reporter Bree Steffen talked to him about the close call with the Lilac Fire that destroyed his car and his livelihood.

Anthony Carrasco is used to being close to danger; he's a photographer in San Diego County.

"This isn't my first brush fire," he said. "I've always shot news."

RELATED: Lilac Fire: Brush fire rages in San Diego's North County

Thursday was the first time he was ever scared for his life. He was near West Lilac Road when the wildfire first started.

"I initially drove all the way up to that house, and I banged on the door to see if anybody was home," Carrasco said. "And as I was coming down, I saw this house start to catch on fire and then the house over here started to catch on fire."

"All of a sudden, I couldn't see anything. It was like, I couldn't see the front of my [car] hood," Carrasco said. "It was just grey and orange and I could feel the heat coming through my window and I was like 'Nope, time to leave.' It went from, you know, this is bad to I have to go like right now to survive." 

RELATED: Lilac Fire: Brush fire rages in San Diego's North County

His car got stuck when he tried to leave, forcing him to make a life-saving, split-second decision: to abandon his car and all his gear. As he was running down the road trying to get away from the fire, a Good Samaritan scooped him up. 

"This guy who I'd never met before, his name's Blake. In the most calm voice ever, 'How can I help you?'" Carrasco said. "'Let's get out of here, how can I help?' And I later find out that this man, this man lost his entire house."

The fire destroyed his car seconds later - along with thousands of dollars worth of his equipment.

RELATED: How to help those affected by the Lilac Fire

"It's a completely custom car, it had nine scanners in the console, it had my MacBook mounted in it," Carrasco said. "My tripod, my internet, my MiFi, all my fire protection gear, batteries, chargers, blankets, tool sets. I had all my still camera equipment was in there. I had like five lenses in there, my Nikons." 

Like many other people who are trying to figure out how to replace the things that the fire took from them, Carrasco says he won't give up his passion. 

"Oh yeah. I've worked too hard at it," he said. "It's what I do." 

Anthony says the only thing that was salvageable from his car was a Bible. Anthony has set up a GoFundMe page to help buy new equipment.