LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST (CBSLA.com) — Campers from the Los Angeles area were reunited with their families Sunday after flames tore through the Circle V Ranch Camp 18 miles outside Santa Barbara. The area is dealing with the massive Whittier Fire near Lake Cachuma that has burned almost 8,000 acres.
There were some tense and scary moments for about 90 campers and their parents waiting for information hundreds of miles away in Lincoln Heights and Ventura. Some children suffered panic attacks and fainted, but all got out safely.
“It was scary, it was very scary because I know how quickly fire spreads. I literally sat with the phone in my hand waiting for a phone call,” Caroline Reales said.
Amayah Madere was in the middle of it all. She says she was in the pool when the counselor initially told them to get out and change in a hurry. They were escorted to the dining hall where all of the campers were told to wait. Madere says the firefighters were actively battling the fire around them while counselors sprayed down the area with water.
“I prayed that if I didn’t die I would go to church and right when I prayed the firefighters came,” Madere said.
They were all loaded into SUV’s, some kids rode in the way back to make sure all of them got out of the camp. When they were in the car, Amayah says they had a police escort out of the fire zone. The trees were burning just outside the window.
“They told us not to touch the windows because the car was hot from the tree that was on fire that we had to drive by,” Madere said.
Back in Lincoln heights, parents gathered, anxiously waiting for their children. All of the kids made it home safely.
“I asked, I made sure, I said is the head count accurate? Are both Amayah and Devon there? And they said yes, they are both there, they are safe, they are eating dinner, so it was a relief.” Reales said.
They had to get out so fast that none of the campers had time to grab their stuff. Reales and Madere say they don’t care, as long as everyone is alive and safe.