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Your stories of heroism amid flames

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(CNN) -- As wildfires raged and thousands of Californians evacuated their homes, CNN.com readers shared their stories of heroism, words of thanks and offers of assistance.

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I-Reporter Norman Arroyo took this picture of Chula Vista police officers assessing a fire early Tuesday morning.

Heather Storke of Oceanside, California
Just a quick note to share a California fire story which has not yet been told, about some amazing heroes who saved my grandma and hundreds of other elderly and disabled people in Poway, California, today.

At 6 this morning my parents, Ted and Donna Storke, who live in Oceanside (a few blocks from Camp Pendleton), received a call from the Villa Monte Vista Care Center where my grandma, Mary Storke, lives. They were notified that the hundreds of residents who live there were going to be evacuated because the fires had rapidly advanced overnight and were entering Poway.

My parents quickly went to go get my Gram. The closer they got to Poway, the thick cloud of smoke turned the sky as dark as pitch black night. When they arrived, there was a fleet of school buses waiting to evacuate the center's residents whose families were unable to get there.

My parents said the center's staff was amazing! They were calm and totally organized and efficient. They had my Gram (and all residents) packed up and ready to be moved at a moment's notice.

They had my Gram's meds set up and organized for five days of doses, prescriptions written up in case the evacuation lasted longer, medical and treatment schedules written up like my Gram's dialysis schedule, and clothing and other personal belongings packed.

So my parents were able to quickly get my Gram and leave. The air was horrible, difficult to breathe and burning eyes, so they put a blanket over my Gram's face on the way to the car.

The drive roundtrip from Oceanside to Poway usually takes them an hour and a half; today it took four hours! Knowing how quickly the fire is spreading, driving into and out of thick black smoke, seeing embers flying and fire jumping roads and freeways, and seeing how far out the smoke extended over the ocean was scary. They are happy to be back in Oceanside and pray the fires don't reach them.

I just wanted to share our story about the awesome staff of the Villa Monte Vista. We are so thankful for and impressed with how amazingly great the staff was in helping to evacuate ALL of the center residents. Thank you doesn't seem enough to express just how much we appreciate them and all they did. They risked their safety and lives just going to work and staying there until every last one of the hundreds of residents were safely evacuated. They are heroes! Angels with hidden wings!

J.R. Brooks of St. Louis, Missouri
My 70-year-old parents drove a Red Cross emergency response vehicle into San Diego today. Most of us don't realize it, but our country relies on the efforts of a cadre of unpaid volunteers, often retirees. These people leave their comfortable lives at a moment's notice.

They travel INTO the areas everyone else is leaving. They often work under Spartan or stressful conditions. They feed and shelter people, distribute supplies and clothing to keep lives stable, and set up emergency communication centers. They are on the job soon after every major fire, hurricane, earthquake, terrorist attack, flood or tornado. THANK YOU to Papa and Grami for all your hard work!

Lisa Scott-Wilkie of Temecula, California
Thank you to everyone able to be of service to our San Diego community, including our tireless American Sign Language interpreters being of service to our huge deaf community in the San Diego area! Peace to all.

Dennie Dillard of Rowland Heights, California
I would like to help by offering to keep family pets at my house for anyone who can't keep their pets with them ... Also, I would be happy to feed anyone who is in need of a meal. DDRowHts@aol.com

Heather Short of San Diego, California
Thank you to local news media and San Diego police department for getting the word out quickly about evacuations.

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Kirsten Dudley of West Palm Beach, Florida
I am the owner of kaydeecouture.com. If any of the fire victims ... need assistance replacing their clothing, please offer my personal shopping services for free, and all clothing will be given at cost and no profit to me. I am not just offering to help replace luxury clothing, I am also offering to help those in need of clothing for general wear, many of which I can find for as low as $2 for a pair of clean pre-owned jeans, tops, sweaters, etc. I will pay for shipping from Florida to California.

I'm not a wealthy woman, I'm really very small time, but I have access to so many consignment stores. I just want to help in any way that I can. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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