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Fire wipes out mobile home park

  • Story Highlights
  • Three-fourths of mobile homes in one park destroyed, resident says
  • Families flee with little after Border Patrol gives evacuation order
  • Nearby Red Cross shelter houses 585 people
  • Fallen wires, potentially explosive propane tanks prohibit return
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From Aaron Brodie
CNN
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SPRING VALLEY, California (CNN) -- Flames and smoke drove hundreds of people from a Southern California mobile home park, and it might not reopen for months -- if ever, a routed resident said.

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Carmen Hidalgo said the mobile home she shares in Dulzura with eight family members was destroyed.

The fire destroyed about 100 of the 130 or so homes in the Barrett Mobile Home and RV Park, Carmen Hidalgo of Dulzura, California, told CNN.

A creek bed that runs through the park divides the destroyed from the spared, said Capt. Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry Fire Protection.

Near the trailer park's entrance, where her family's home was, "everything's burned down to the floor," Hidalgo said.

Dulzura is about seven miles north of the Mexican border in the desolate, scrub-covered hills east of San Diego.

At the shelter, McLean handed out a seven-page list of addresses where homes were damaged or destroyed in the Harris, Rice and Witch fires. There were about 60 addresses on each page.

Evacuees Tony and Brandy Clark, both 30, were pretty sure their house in Lawson Valley east of Jamul was in trouble. Tony Clark said the hills on both sides of their house were in flames the night before.

But the couple has been homeless before and can handle it, he said.

"We can rebuild a house. You can't rebuild a life," he said.

And besides, "We have angels like the Red Cross," he added.

An American Red Cross shelter at Steele Canyon High School in nearby Spring Valley had 585 evacuees registered as of 6 a.m. Thursday, shelter director Howard Wolford said. More than 200 had taken up residence in the school gymnasium, while the rest stayed in trailers and motor homes outside.

Teachers, staff and students from the high school are volunteering at the shelter, which opened Sunday, Wolford said.

Many of the mobile home park's residents are migrant workers from Mexico, and it's not known whether all were in the United States legally, Hidalgo said.

It didn't matter to the Red Cross.

"If they're human beings, they've got red blood, we'll take care of them," Wolford said.

Everyone from the mobile home park is at the shelter, Hidalgo said, noting that even those whose homes weren't burned can't return because of the danger posed by fallen electrical wires and potentially explosive propane tanks.

"Everyone knew each other. Everyone's like a big family," she said. "Now the ones whose homes didn't burn down are the ones who are bringing us clothes and stuff. You know, everyone's sticking together."

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Border Patrol officers came through the park Sunday morning announcing the evacuation order. Hidalgo's family didn't have time to gather up any belongings before fleeing.

"Our home is gone ... [but] all that's replaceable. Family isn't, you know? The most important thing is all us. We're all out and safe." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Jim Kavanagh contributed to this report.

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