Neighbors Work Together, Save Dozens of Homes from Wildfire in Bonsall

They went house to house putting out hot spots with garden hoses throughout the night

Three people are being credited with saving an entire neighborhood in the devastating Lilac Fire that destroyed more than 100 homes when it sparked Thursday.

Don Philippbar, his stepson Todd Smith and his neighbor Cathy Orchard will not be forgetting the Lilac Fire anytime soon. 

"It was pretty crazy, my heart’s beating right now just thinking about it," said Smith.

Instead of evacuating, the three saved their neighborhood.

"I was talking to Don and I said, 'God, I feel like the Three Musketeers out here,'" Orchard said with a laugh.

Together they ran from house to house putting out hot spots after a home nearby caught fire and sent embers flying into the sky.

One ember landed on their 80-year-old neighbor's back door.

"That was lit on fire so I took the garden hose, just hosing that thing down, and just kept hosing it down," said Philippbar. "And then I'm running down getting other spot fires on the next couple of houses."

They used garden hoses along with old hoses from when Orchard was a fire chief in Monterey Park.

Philippbar was also at one time a firefighter.

"I remember a friend of mine who's an attorney, he said, 'Why do you stay?'"  recalled Orchard. "And I said, 'Because I know what I'm doing.' I wouldn't go into court and pretend I'm a lawyer. So people shouldn't pretend they’re firefighters if they don't know what they're doing."

Even the ground next to the fire hydrant was burned to a crisp.

The three demonstrated the saying, "All for one, and one for all," and in the process, became heroes for their hometown. 

"I have no doubt that my house would've burned down if we weren't out here," Orchard said.

The three combined have dozens of years of both firefighting and military experience.  

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