The Sand Fire torched some 42,000 acres in the mountains around the Santa Clarita Valley back in July — but it couldn’t lay a finger on the human spirit for survival … and kindness.
The most recent example of that kindness comes from the First Presbyterian Church of Newhall, which will hold a fund-raising concert on Sunday, Nov. 6, to help out Jan Sanborn and her husband, Loren Janes, an elderly couple who lost everything when the massive blaze consumed their home in the mountains above Canyon Country.
Sanborn is a pianist and composer who has performed in the past at First Presbyterian, and who became friends with the church’s musical director, Connie Woodson.
Janes is a legendary Hollywood stuntman, noted for his work in Steve McQueen movies such as Bullitt, among many other films. He is now suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
“Everything is history — the only thing that survived was the barbecue,” said Sanborn. “We were evacuated at midnight with just the clothing on our backs and a few documents.
“All my music literature is gone, all of my publications, things that I have written, are gone. The stuff I was working on is gone.’’
Even Janes’ safe, containing mementoes of his years of stunt work, had melted.
What was not gone was the couple’s friends.
“When the Sand Fire happened, I found out that her home had burned to the ground,’’ said Woodson, a Studio City resident who has worked at the Newhall church for about 13 years.
“After the fire happened, I called her (Sanborn’s) cell phone and she said, ‘This is a new beginning for us. We know that God will take care of us.’ They’re very strong people, and they’ll be able to survive this. But when you’ve lost everything, you need some help.
“We just tried to figure out what we could do to help them.’’
And so Woodson began planning a benefit concert.
It will take place at the First Presbyterian Church’s sanctuary at 4 p.m. on Nov. 6. It will be a free-will offering event, with no official charge but donations encouraged.
Woodson said the church’s “praise band’’ — featuring keyboard, drums, guitar, bass guitar and vocalists – will perform contemporary Christian music. In addition, she said, the church choir will do a mix of spiritual music and musical-theater numbers.
The show tunes will feature a “silver screen medley” from some of the movies Janes worked on, including How The West Was Won, Hello Dolly, Bye-Bye Birdie, Camelot and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World.
Sanborn, also a choral arranger who still records and composes piano pieces, said she has relocated to a rented condo in Tarzana, while her husband is cared for at a facility in Eagle Rock.
She said that, because of the care her husband needs, they will not be able to rebuild in Canyon Country.
But her memories, and friendships, remain with her.
“I am so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support,’’ Sanborn said. “I never expected the church to do that.”
The First Presbyterian Church of Newhall is located at 24317 N. Newhall Ave, Newhall.