Village News - Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Thank you letters pertaining to the fire


Last updated 11/8/2007 at Noon

Thanks to one of Fallbrook’s heroes

I want to express my thanks to the Village News and community volunteer Matthew Downey.

My family has a relative, Mike Breining, who lives in Fallbrook. We heard from Mike the day the fires were so very bad. He told my aunt he was waiting to evacuate, but we didn’t hear from him for two days after that.

Mike doesn’t see well, and we didn’t know if he had someone to drive him out. Worried, I tried to find out where I could get more information by e-mailing the Village News. I got a prompt reply back that suggested I try contacting the Chamber of Commerce, or a volunteer named Matthew Downey, who had offered to check on houses for people.

I couldn’t get through to the Chamber, so I called Matthew. He was incredibly kind and understanding as he took our information and offered to help. He was out late, in the dark, looking for a house on a road that had no street signs. He made three attempts to find the house.

I can only imagine how difficult it must be to try to find a specific house when the landmarks are burned and house numbers and street signs are gone. He is one of Fallbrook’s heroes, in my opinion.

Matthew refused to take any money to help offset his cell phone bill, but he did say that anyone who wishes to thank him should donate to the North County Fire Protection District, 315 East Ivy Street, Fallbrook, CA 92028.

The relief when we heard back from Mike was huge and I want to thank both Matthew and the Village News for their help as we tried to contact a family member.

Susan Buce

The Dalles, OR

Thanks to two apartment residents

I live in Northern California and am extremely glad that you keep your site updated with as much information as possible.

I have a son who is medically retired from the Marines, lives in Fallbrook and is extremely concerned about his possessions. He lives at Palm Terrace and the only furniture he has is there.

Your updates, through me, keep him and a friend informed. They left at the last possible time last night [October 22] for Vista, where he is staying with his friend’s family.

Again, thank you so much.

[Three days later]

I think the residents of Fallbrook Manor and Palm Terrace need to give special thanks to two of their residents.

“William” and “Derrick” risked their lives in assisting residents in evacuation and then left themselves. On Tuesday they returned, fearing something had or would happen to the apartments.

At Palm Terrace, it was discovered that someone had broken into one of the apartments. There apparently were residents still there who did not leave. The two men continued to stay in their own apartments and did walks around the area every couple of hours just to make sure no one else was vandalized.

As of Friday, these two are preparing the apartment for residents to return and for displaced persons to have somewhere to go. They said they had 22 apartments to prepare and get ready for rent. There may be more.

Yes, they realize they should have stayed away, but being retired Air Force and Marine, they felt they were doing what they were trained to do: protect!

My hat is off to these two.

Susan Thomas

A real friend

I would like to tell you the story of my girlfriend, Jean Tucker, who lived in Valley Oaks Mobile Home Park. The Rice Fire that started Monday spread so quickly that by the time she went to evacuate her home and save her cat, officers were not letting people down Old Highway 395.

They told her the park was burning and, as she watched the news at my ranch here in Valley Center, found out later in the afternoon that most of the homes were destroyed and she was devastated about her cat, Orion, that was in the house. She had her dog here with her, her car and the clothes on her back – that’s it.

After assuming her house had burned, she stayed here with me at my Valley Center horse ranch and helped us shelter in place to save my home. I have 65 horses and many other animals here and did not evacuate.

Jean helped hose down the roofs here and kept an eye on the news in case any fire came near. She found out yesterday morning [October 25] that her home did, in fact, burn to the ground. We saw the pictures on your Web site under “Reader-submitted photos.” The photo of the angel is in front of her house. It’s her angel. She also found out both her sisters lost their homes in the park and her nephew, luckily, had the home that survived.

I just wanted to say how strong a person she is and I was touched that she would help me fight fires here when she knew her house probably burned and lost her cat.

Thanks to the reader who sent in [the photo of her burnt house], Jean was able to see her home before the shock of seeing it burnt to the ground in person.

Nicki Branch

Thank you, Chris Miller

On October 22, Chris Miller, 23, of Fallbrook, was on his way to work when he received a call from his employer that the smoke from the fires was too intense and to take the day off. Through his CB radio, Chris heard that the Wild Animal Park needed help.

Without hesitation, he helped get some of the small animals to a safe place. He then heard about the need in Fallbrook to evacuate horses and helped rescue at least 16, taking them to a safe haven.

He then headed to the mobile home park on Reche Road to help. He got his shovel and tried to help get the fire under control, only to hear four explosions from propane tanks. He left immediately for home.

On Tuesday morning, Chris headed out to help rescue any animals that needed help. He heard that there were horses that needed rescuing on Palomar Mountain and again found a way to get a trailer and help evacuate at least 19 horses to safety in Temecula.

On Wednesday morning he headed into town to the sheriff’s substation and asked if he could help with anything. He was asked to help the animals left behind, getting them food and water.

That evening, when he went to his mother’s home for food and shelter, Chris told her that he felt bad about the military men and women, as well as the sheriff’s deputies not getting enough food. He wanted to help them, too.

A call was made to local businesses that then donated food and supplied the freezer and cooler to store the food as well as canopies for shelter, tables and coolers for storage, hotboxes and chafing dishes to keep the food warm.

With the help of other local residents, Chris fed many people and handed out water to everyone who came to the site. Food was served throughout the day and evening while Chris ran errands to make sure that whatever “Chris’s Kitchen” needed was made available.

Thank you, Chris Miller, for taking it upon yourself to help those in need.

Judith Peters

Thanks to our community

I know that you are getting a few letters concerning the fires this past week and how things were handled. I have never experienced anything like this in my life.

I was so pleased with how well the schools were evacuated and then the town. I know there was confusion, but there were also more than 40,000 people.

My family and I went to Temecula and were taken very good care of; the outpouring of hospitality was unreal. I have never seen anything like it in my life.

I want to thank everyone involved in the care for our homes, our health and our community.

On our way out of town we went through De Luz. I had only been that way one time before, so I wasn’t sure where I was going, but someone had gotten out and put signs on all of the stop signs, giving directions to Temecula and the I-15. Plus, some of the homesteaders directed traffic.

So, one more time, thank you to our community for being there for each other that week.

Deana Grissom


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