Fundraiser’s goal to help people still struggling after fire By Ana Nita

Nick Rees, a firefighter with the United States Forest Service station in Alpine, was already at work July 6 when strong Santa Ana winds fanned the flames that destroyed parts of that hill­side enclave two months ago dur­ing the West Fire.

“I want to say it was definitely over 100 acres by the time we got here and started doing structure protection,” Rees said. “We were doing 16-hour shifts on it and that lasted roughly about five or six days.”

Kathryn Ruedy from Alpine saw the fire approaching and evacuated even before it became mandatory.

Ruedy saw “huge black smoke coming right on our home. Very strong winds, it looked very seri­ous. We didn’t even discuss it, we went in the house, got our impor­tant papers and our computers, got in the car and drove away,” she said.

Ruedy came back two days lat­er and found her home intact, but the fire wasn’t as forgiving with her neighbors’ homes.

Since the disaster, dozens of people are still without perma­nent housing, living in hotels or in their cars.

Rees and Ruedy were among the people who participated in a recent fundraiser to benefit some of those people.

The community of Alpine led by Stephanie Sorrels organized a Sept. 8 fundraiser at the Ameri­can Legion hall. The money raised is to benefit uninsured and under insured former homeown­ers with no available resources to rebuild their homes. Sorrels said approximately 20 of the 45 families are still displaced by the fire without a home, and there are five survi­vors “in pretty bad shape who really need our help. Some are still in hotels, there’s one who will have nowhere to go after the first of October and another one living in his truck,” Sorells said.

The firefighters from Alpine and Japatul were guests of hon­ors at the fund raiser.

“I care about this community. I want to help raise money for families who are under insured or uninsured,” Ruedy said.Clarice Jackson, an Alpine resident, said she went to the event to thank the fire depart­ment and make a donation for the victims, explaining that “my sister’s house almost burned up in the fire and they had to evacu­ate.” Sorrels said the event raised $2,061.

Fundraiser’s goal to help people still struggling after fire By Ana Nita

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