BONNY DOON, Calif. - A concerned group of residents in the South Bay are defying evacuation orders and are staying behind to try and save their homes.
They live in and around Bonny Doon and have teamed up in a united effort to fight one of the fires burning in the CZU Lightning Complex.
Their efforts began even before the evacuation order was given on Wednesday.
They started coordinating to bring in equipment and pool resources.
It’s not something Cal Fire or law enforcement condones, but with limited official resources, the residents say they felt like they had to do something.
“This is behind our house, I’m standing up against our house,” said an unidentified resident in a video showing how close the flames were to her home.
It was captured near Martin Road around Bonny Doon, where upwards of 15 residents, possibly many more, are protecting their property against the encroaching wildfire, sometimes right outside their door.
“I’m just keeping the embers at bay, little spot fires that pop up near my house,” says the woman in the video.
Hana O’Brien lives on Martin Road but has evacuated the fire zone, unlike several of her neighbors.
She says text messages are the primary means residents are coordinating firefighting efforts since cell service in the area is poor at best.
“Working to keep the fire compartmentalized and stop from jumping the main roads throughout Bonny Doon,” said Hana O’Brien who lives on a 20-acre property threatened by fire.
Residents have made Home Depot runs to purchase equipment, and have even brought in bulldozers, and water tankers. Swimming pools are also being used as a water source.
“Pools are huge. Neighbors have been going around and putting up signs ‘pool this way.’ And supplies over here,” said O’Brien.
A map shows the fire nearly surrounding the community.
O’Brien says residents have made several fire lines and their efforts have made a difference.
“I don’t believe that our homes would still be there.”
Residents have saved 20 or more homes, so far, according to O’Brien.
During an afternoon news conference where firefighters literally saw help falling from the sky, rain forced them indoors where they strongly denounced amateur firefighting.
“No offense to anybody but most are not trained professional firefighters, and although they think they’re doing the right thing, and doing a good thing, they inadvertently put themselves into harm's way,” said Mark Brunton of Cal Fire.
Cal Fire says an approaching thunderstorm could make the fire and winds more volatile, putting both firefighters and anyone still in the evacuation zone at serious risk.
“There’s definitely a huge concern at first there was a possibility of the storm coming through, but already I’m starting to feel the air change,” said O’Brien.
Weather changes are expected through Sunday night, with the possibility of shifting winds, possible rain, and lightning, which is responsible for sparking the fires now threatening the homes so many are trying to save.