Lake Elsinore Neighborhood 'Devastated' By Fire

The American Red Cross is assisting those displaced by the blaze that ripped through a Lake Elsinore neighborhood Wednesday afternoon.


That was the word used Wednesday by some Lake Elsinore residents to describe the emotion of watching a fire destroy their neighborhood.

, destroyed two singlewide mobile homes, one pre-fab residence, and five vehicles. It also left several people homeless and temporarily forced evacuations in the area. (to read more about the fire.)

Local resident Tami Bissett, 47, said she called 911 to report the blaze after spotting a pile of debris on fire.

“The neighborhood just flocked to watch the fire grow,” she said.

Bissett’s home was spared, as was 20-year-old Carmina Jimenez’s place on Tereticornis Avenue.

“I was giving my 2-year-old son a bath and smelled fire,” Jimenez said. “I grabbed my son, wrapped him in a towel, and got out.”

Joan Lang, 53, wasn’t so lucky. She lost everything in the blaze.

“I was in the bedroom and I smelled smoke,” she said. “So I grabbed some important papers and pictures and two fishing poles.”

Those few personal belongings, along with her two dogs, were about all Lang could salvage before her singlewide mobile home on Walnut Avenue burned to the ground.

While Lang joked with supportive neighbors about her dilemma -- “Nevermind the mess, I didn’t know you guys were coming over” – her daughters, Katie Diaz, 26, of Homeland, and Nancy Perez, 40, of Menifee, say their mother is distraught.

“She needs some time alone,” they said.

The American Red Cross put Lang up in a local hotel, and there was optimism in her voice.

“I feel excited about a new beginning, seeing what the Lord has in store for (me),” she said. “I’m thankful and blessed to have lived here for 21 years.”

Faith was also strong in 51-year-old Chris Mellor Wednesday night after his home on Walnut Avenue was spared.

“Thank the Lord that my home was still here considering the homes burnt all around (mine),” he said, explaining that his melted rain gutters and scorched fence are minor damage compared to what might have been.

“This is the Lord’s house. The neighborhood kids have come here in the past for Bible Study and other church activities,” Mellor said. “Definitely a miracle.”

Maria Vargas, 35, lives near Four Corners in Lake Elsinore. She saw smoke billowing from the neighborhood where her father owns a mobile home that he rents out.

Vargas rushed to the scene.

“I just kept thinking the home would still be there,” she said. “We lived in the home for 11 years before we rented it out.”

But when Vargas arrived, she saw that the rental on Walnut Avenue was destroyed.

“The renters lost everything and there is no word to express what has happened,” she said. “You see it in the news but would never think it would happen to the family.”

While the one-acre fire took less than an hour to contain, it required 82 firefighters, 11 engines and seven overhead personnel to get it under control.

No one was injured in the blaze, the cause of which is under investigation. --Toni McAllister contributed to this report.

Mr. Lada August 19, 2011 at 02:49 PM
The photo of the melting rocking horse is simply chilling. Great photo, sad event :(
J Carabine September 07, 2011 at 02:45 PM
I met Joan at the shelter yesterday, she surrendered her dog. Nice lady, sad event. doesn't sound like she has gotten any help to rebuild her life :(.
Heather March 07, 2012 at 10:58 PM
I would like to know the addresses of the homes that were burned...I grew up on 18361 Tereticornis as a kid (back in the 80's)


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