BANNING (CBSLA.com) — A 53-year-old man lost the home he shared with his mother in Wednesday’s Summit fire just a month after her death.
The nearly 3,000-acre blaze, which started around 12:30 p.m. near North San Gorgonio Road and Summit Drive in Banning, forced evacuations and threatened houses.
Joe Kiener said he had just finished eating lunch when police ordered him out of the home he’s lived in since high school.
He grabbed his dog, Duke, and drove down the hill. He wasn’t able to get very far.
“I hit a wall of smoke. I lost the officer, didn’t know who was around me,” Kiener said.
He said he turned his car around and waited with fire crews as the flames gutted his beloved home.
“(My neighbor) said, ‘It looks like we’re gonna lose your house.’ I said, ‘Well, nothing I can do over here. I got Duke. He’s safe.’”
Kiener said he’s grateful to be alive and nothing compares to losing his 78-year-old mother to cancer.
“I don’t think anything can get me down after that. This here is not going to get me down. Gotta pick up my boot straps and move on,” he said.
Kiener added, “I’m probably going to be a big crying baby once the evening hits…but for the public, you gotta carry on. You have to sit there and realize that it’s a tragedy, yes, but you have friends, you have neighbors.”
He said he may rebuild another home in the area, and will take the few items that were salvaged in the blaze with him.
“Don’t see any reason to move. It’s home,” said Kiener.