SANTA CLARITA ( – Neighbors in Santa Clarita brought food and gratitude Saturday to firefighters and first responders who saved their homes from the Sand Fire.

The City of Santa Clarita, Los Angeles County and the Santa Clarita Valley Disaster Coalition sponsored the event at Central Park on Bouquet Canyon Road.

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After the Sand Fire ended, organizations, neighborhoods and businesses offered to host pancake breakfasts, barbecues and dinners for firefighters. Plans were reconfigured and merged into one all-inclusive event.

Saturday’s gathering offered an opportunity to donate gifts and money to victims of the Sand Fire.

“The Local Fire and Sheriff Thank You Benefit is an excellent way for residents to show their appreciation of local first responders who did such a terrific job of protecting our community,” said Bob Kellar, Santa Clarita Mayor.

(credit: Matt Hartman/Shorealone Films)

(credit: Matt Hartman/Shorealone Films)

The Sand Fire broke out July 22 and burned more than 40,000 acres. Eighteen homes were lost. One man who refused to evacuate was killed.

CBS2’s Greg Mills reported from the thank-you event.

Firefighters were able to save Ruthann Levinson’s home.

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“We were surrounded by the fire. It was unbelievable,” she said, “the firefighters really put their lives on the line.”

She was one of a hundred people offering their thanks.

“They are the most amazing people I’ve ever met,” said Karen Ashcraft.

She said she will never forget the firefighters who saved the animal sanctuary she runs.

“He saved the animals’ kennel and my house and came up and hugged me. I’m going to start crying,” she said.

Firefighter Catherine Bailey of the US Forest Service, was touched by the support of residents.

“It’s amazing to see support. We were glad to do what we could to help,” Bailey said.

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