Defensible space saves Spring Valley homes

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SAN DIEGO - Just two weeks ago, the ten acre Mercado fire burned dangerously close to many Spring Valley homes. Yvette Elias didn't know if she'd be coming back to her childhood home.

"We could see the fire. We could see the heat," said Elias.

Neighbors quickly gathered their belongings and evacuated while firefighters fought from the air and ground. Pink stain from the fire retardant covered one home, showing just how close the fire got to destroying it.

CAL FIRE says their firefighters aren't the only ones who saved the homes. They say Spring Valley residents get a lot of credit too.

"They went in and maintained great defensible space. They mowed the weeds down. They kept everything mowed nicely so that when the fire started at the base of the hill and got to the top of the hill, it ran out of fuel," said CAL FIRE's Captain Kendal Bortisser.

Twice a year, Elias' father and other neighbors clear out the canyon in their backyard. They also water nearby plants so they don't become dry.

For these Spring Valley residents, all their planning paid off.

"The house that I grew up in is still here. Thank God. That's just what I could say," said Elias.