On Friday, residents were allowed to return back to their properties as evacuation orders and road closures have lifted in the Japatul Valley. For some returning back was difficult as the Valley Fire destroyed their home.
“Nobody can imagine unless it happens to them,” said Lupe Hernandez through tears as she clutched her daughter’s hand.
“We’re okay and thankful for that, but looking at this you can’t imagine your feelings, it’s so many things,” Hernandez said.
Friday was the first time Hernandez returned to what's left of her Jamul home since the Valley Fire. Hernandez lived with her daughter and son-in-law Anabel and Dewey Bratcher, none of them were home when the wildfire got started and they lost everything as they were not allowed to return to evacuate their five cats.
“Just thinking about how scared she was, how the babies were,” said Hernandez about her cats. “It’s overwhelming, just thinking about what they went through is so so hard.”
The grandmother of five says she's thankful to be alive, but is in pain because she lost her cats, her late husband's ashes, among so many memories she shared on her colorful patio.
“Oh, it was beautiful here that was my favorite time in the morning with my coffee and afternoon for the sunset,” said Hernandez as she walked through what once was her patio.
Their two-story home is now a memory. Anabel Bratcher has a message for all during the fire season.
“Don’t put off preparing for a disaster do it now, because you just don’t know,” Bratcher said.
The family said they are so thankful for the support they've received from family, friends and complete strangers.
“We will step forward, one day at a time,” Hernandez said.