Stroke survivor and retired Los Angeles Unified School District teacher Jeffrey Smith, 65, has been living in a hotel with his caretaker since the devastating Creek Fire destroyed his Santiago Canyon home.
"I tell you, if I hadn’t got out I’d be dead," he said. "That fire was like immediate."
His three bedroom home of 30 years was gone in an instance, as was some necessary medical equipment he used. His hospital bed and wheelchair ramps were consumed by the flames in addition to his prized collection of records and books.
Smith's outdoor deck was turned into rubble soon after he was forced to evacuate.
"We used to often sit out here on the deck and watch hang gliders coming down,” his sister Adrienne Smith said.
As flames crept closer to Smith’s home, someone banged on his window to warn him of the blaze. The warning gave him and his caretaker enough time to evacuate.
"It caught fire over my bedroom and burned everything in there," Jeffrey said. "I would have been in the bed, so God was watching me. I was blessed."
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His sister said that Jeffrey and his caretaker tried to wait out the fire at a Vons parking lot and in a Starbucks in hopes they would be able to return. Jeffrey confirmed that there is no being able to go back.
"I'm trying to come back, get any help possible," he said.
Jeffrey said he is grateful for his loved ones and they effort they are putting to help him recover from the blaze.
"I'm blessed to have them as friends," he said. "I'm glad they are in my life, thankful they have the good feelings to hopefully see me through this."
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