East County survivors of the devastating 2003 Cedar Fire came out Saturday to donate their artifacts for a monument being built to honor the victims.
"Things like this its just such a total amazement that I didn't want to throw it away," said survivor Carlynne Allbee, holding melted metal and burned pottery.
For Allbee, the artifacts mark a way to remember all that was lost in the devastating fire.
The Cedar Fire Monument stands next to the Lakeside Fire Administration Office on Lakeside Avenue and pays tribute to those who died in the deadly blaze that destroyed thousands of homes and left more than 100 people injured in San Diego.
The community project will include a garden and art installations inspired by the Cedar Fire.
"When we started this group the idea was when we'd get together and share ideas and resources so that we could build better," said survivor David Kassel.
The monument also aims to be used as a community gathering space and an educational tool on wildfires for residents and students. The main walkway to the monument contains a chronology of fires that have impacted the Lakeside area, as well as information on fire preparedness.
“The Cedar Fire Historical Monument will be a place that will be forever set aside for our community to remember the devastating wildfire that touched all of our lives,” the website for the project explains. “It will be a place for reflection and remembrance of those that tragically lost their lives. It will also be there to provide education and awareness for the next time wildfire threatens our community.”
Lakeside Fire Protection District Fire Chief Andy Parr said the site is about 90 percent completed and will be ready to officially open to the public by late October – the 12th anniversary of the fire.
For now, organizers are in the process of collecting more donations for the project, as well as artifacts from survivors of the fire that artists will incorporate into artworks that will be on display at the site. Organizers are asking survivors to bring their items from the Cedar Fire to the monument on Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
“Some of that artwork might be some items from the fire that might have uniquely melted into artistic shapes or pieces of the rubble of a home that a local artisan may have turned into art or something else very special,” Parr told NBC 7 Tuesday. “We hope something like that comes forward with this call.”
To donate to the Cedar Fire Monument click here or here. Donations can also be dropped off at the Lakeside Fire Administration Office Monday through Thursday between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Checks can also be mailed directly to: San Diego Regional Fire Foundation, ATTN: Cedar Fire Monument, 2508 Historic Decatur Rd., Suite 200, San Diego, CA 92106-6138.
Parr said many community members have made donations toward the monument, and local building industry businesses and trades have been generous with their time and contributions to the project as well.
‘We'd like to raise another $25,000 to assist with the final touches and some of the educational elements/programs that are planned to accompany the site,” Parr explained.
When the project is 100 percent complete, Parr said it will be a symbol of the community.
“The monument is being built just how it was envisioned by the community. Years of committee work, fundraising and other events have turned this place from a vision into a reality,” he said.
“The Cedar Fire of 2003 touched all of us here in Lakeside very deeply and this project has been an opportunity to create something very special from a small sliver of land at the site of Lakeside's newest fire station that was built with the Cedar Fire in mind. The committee owes a great debt of gratitude to many, many people that have helped with this site,” Parr added.