Evacuee: Once we saw the flames, we said ‘We can’t do this’


By Caleb Lunetta, Tammy Murga & Jim Holt

Signal Staff Writers

From Shadow Pines where the Tick Fire first hit, to Val Verde at the end of the day where it is believed to have extended, SCV residents were shocked to witness the fierceness of Thursday’s fire.


Pam Conley watched a wall of flame sweep across Tick Canyon toward her house near Shadow Pines.

“Flames, flames; it was horrible,” she said.

Conley and her daughter, one of several families who live on Park Glen, a cul-de-sac, were evacuated by fire officials with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

“We started putting all our (most important) items in our vehicle about 40 minutes before we left,” she said. “Once we saw the flames we said, ‘We can’t do this’ and we left.

“They have everything blocked off,” Conley said. “You can’t get in, you can only get out.”

Conley, who lives at the top of a hill on the cul-de-sac, said she saw what looked like all the residents of her street leaving, as well.

As she drove away from the advancing fire and from her home, she saw firefighters “going up and down the streets” near Shadow Pines, telling people to leave.

Conley drove to the Golden Valley area and watched the flames from there as a dark spreading cloud of smoke covered the northeast section of the SCV.


Before long, the Tick Fire had crested the hills to the east of Sierra Highway, leaving the communities and businesses below no other choice but to pack their bags as quickly as they could, grabbing people, pets and papers, and leave their homes behind.

As deputies shouted out over the vehicles’ loudspeakers in the Mint Canyon neighborhood that “we’re on our own,” residents began prepping for their imminent departure.

Residents on Mammoth Lane prepares to evacuate the Tick Fire in Canyon Country on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

“Yes, we’re kind of worried because it’s just behind the mountains there,” said Mint Canyon resident Subashini Subramanian. “Just now, my husband left work and went to my daughter’s high school to pick her up.” 

Mint Canyon resident Trevor Jones, 25, was spotted preparing for the blaze by spraying the grass and homes with hose water. He continued to do so as the fire raced down toward his and his neighbors’ homes while his mother, Heather Tredick, worked to pack up the house.  

Tredick said going through her head was “basically the same thing and everyone else who has gone through this: ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to lose everything.’ I’m terrified, it’s terrifying. We used to see fires everywhere, but when it’s this close to you, you gain a different perspective.”

After speaking with a Signal reporter on the scene, Tredick picked up what would become an emotional phone call with her husband, as she was informing him that they were being evacuated. 

Some Canyon Country residents came to the Mint Canyon area to see the fire for themselves and determine if they should evacuate themselves.

“It doesn’t worry me because the Santa Clarita (firefighters) are always on it,” said Casey Henry, a Sand Canyon resident. “I’ve got that safety net.” 


Residents from Val Verde, with the Rye Fire still fresh in their memory, said they had a scare of their own when they saw the smoke of a blaze not far from their homes.

A resident on Mammoth Lane react to the wind and smoke from the Tick Fire in Canyon Country on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

“I heard planes flying by, and I came outside and just saw the smoke,” said Mario, a Val Verde resident. “We haven’t gotten a fire in a long time.”

“As I was walking up I saw the fire,” said Robert Avalos, the owner of a trailer that burned. “I saw the black smoke.”

Avalos said he wasn’t certain if the fire was an accident or on purpose. What he says he does know is that he lost $4,000 worth of materials in a trailer and pickup truck.

“I’m not homeless, but I’m going to go look for the guy who burned it,” said Avalos. 

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On Twitter: @jamesarthurholt

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