Couple chooses to stay, guard home from fire

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">Wendy Domster</span></div>
August 14, 2009 7:01:22 PM PDT
While thousands of people have evacuated, some refuse to leave. But the decision to stay and fight the flames yourself is obviously risky.

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At the Bonny Doon Airport the helicopters refuel between water drops over the fire. And all around that area homes that have been evacuated, but the mountain spirit is keeping some residents behind to battle the fire.

The Lockheed Fire is two ridge tops away -- about a mile from one house. Ash from the fire is falling through the tree canopy giving an ominous sign of pending danger. However, Wendy Domster and Chris Echavia are staying put, even though they are under mandatory evacuation.

"I think we're pretty confident. CAL FIRE does a great job. Mutual aid is up here so we've got a lot of people supporting us and I think we're in really good hands," said Echavia.

They evacuated for five days last year when the Martin Fire swept through their neighborhood, coming within a mile of their house. This time, they're prepared.

They invested in a gas-powered pump, hose line and fittings to keep an advancing fire at bay. Wendy Domster is a full-time firefighter, but her specialty is hazardous materials, not wild land fires.

"There's nothing more we can do about it. We could turn our backs and leave, but we're not going to do that. We're going to just keep watching the weather and go by that and good communication with all of us," said Domster.

Three of their nine neighbors have also dug in their heels, determined to protect their homes. They had to sign a waiver when they refused to evacuate.

"There are no birds. I've noticed that. Some wildlife. we saw some deer, but not a whole lot going on. So, nature really takes care of itself and they know when to leave," said Echavia.

If needed, Echavia and Domster are prepared to evacuate. They're hoping, though, to get help from Kuan Yin, the goddess of compassion, which sits out front. Sheltered by the trunk of a ponderosa pine that burned in last year's fire. They're also hoping for luck as they knock on wood.

All other residents are under strict orders to stay away by the highway patrol. The only exception is for those that need to get additional medicine.

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