She has lived in southern California for nearly 30 years but this is the first time a woman from East Grand Rapids says a fire has forced her family to evacuate out of fear for their safety.

Pam Porter Reinig, her husband and teenage son live in Ventura, Calif. When the destructive Thomas Wildfire started, they thought it was so far away they didn't have to worry.

But she says the fast moving fire was suddenly bearing down on her neighborhood, and they only had a few minutes to evacuate.

“Grabbed every picture off the wall, computers, hard drives and the cash we had in the house and the pets,” she recalls. “Stuff you can’t replace. And when we were pulling out of the driveway we really saw what was going on. The winds are going every which way, you can’t breathe, you can’t see, and the sound was just ominous. I will never forget the sound.”

The fire did not burn the Reinig house, but it is still threatening other areas of southern California.

So far it has consumed around 800 structures, and it is the fifth largest wildfire in California history. The Reinigs are helping collect clothing and other necessities to assist residents who lost their homes.

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