The view from the quiet backyard multi-million dollar home high in the hills of Yorba Linda was gorgeous Saturday night. The lights of Orange County's flats twinkled below. Headlights snaked along the 91 freeway. You could barely make out the outline of the Newport Coast hills in the distance due to low cloud cover.
but the most striking eye-catcher was the barren hill right in front of the onlooker's face. That same hill was ablaze Nov. 15, when the Freeway Complex Fire took out 110 Yorba Linda homes. It almost got this one, too. Fire that had moved from the Riverside County line roared over that same hill and burned down slope ready to come up the next hill this home is nestled atop of. Lush, well-watered vegetation prevented that from happening.
But nothing could stop a rain shower of burning embers, the homeowner told me. While his wife and three children evacuated, he got on his roof with a garden house, just like other neighborhood dads, and managed to save his massive investment until help arrived and the blaze moved in a different, house-swallowing direction.
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Before that day, surely nothing beat the view from the family's quiet, artifically developed natural setting. Staring into that hill across the way would scare the hell out of me now, however.