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THOUSAND OAKS (CBSLA) – Tens of thousands of evacuees are hoping for the best after they were forced to flee their homes Thursday and Friday as the Woolsey and Hills fires engulfed several communities in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Mary of Oak Park told CBS2 Friday morning that she and her family were forced to pick up and leave their home at around 10:30 p.m. Thursday after receiving a robocall from the county regarding the mandatory evacuation.

“All you could see was smoke in the street, a red glow coming from right over the houses. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life… It just became so surreal,” Mary said while standing outside the Thousand Oaks Teen Center, which had been established as one of several evacuation shelters in the area.

Mary said her family made the decision to drop everything and flee when smoke started coming into the house.

“The smoke was getting so thick, it was getting in the house,” Mary said. “I was scared, my kids were scared, they were crying. They’re adults now, but at that point, you just see them as little kids and you want protect them.”

Mary said she was puzzled when, as they were leaving, she saw several of her neighbors with their lights on and their cars parked in the driveway.

“I know they all got calls… Why they chose to stay, and how they could live in a house filled with smoke,” she said. “My house was filled with smoke, I know theirs was filled with smoke, and how can you live like that… I mean, we were choking in the house.”

Mary said her family hopes that they’ll return to find their home intact. The Woolsey Fire broke out Thursday afternoon, just one day after the tragic massacre at the Broadline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks in which a gunman killed 12 people before taking his own life.

“We just had shootings, for God’s sake, how much more can the city endure?” she asked.


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