SAN DIEGO — Nearly a week after the Valley Fire ignited, Alpine resident Jesus Mendoza went through what’s left of his home and belongings, which were wiped out by the flames.
“Kinda numb right now – haven’t really taken it in. My mind just doesn’t comprehend what’s going on yet,” Mendoza said.
The motorhome he lived in is barely recognizable. His two vehicles are also destroyed — including a 1968 Ford Falcon he was restoring.
“(I was) getting ready to give it to my son when he turned 16,” said Mendoza.
Friday morning, Mendoza returned home for the first time since last Saturday, when he saw flames quickly moving down the hillside. “It was just so fast,” he recalled.
Mendoza says he knew he didn’t have much time. His first thought was to help his friend, Linda, who lives in a house on the property where he lives. He and a couple of buddies helped her pack, got the animals and got out.
“All she’s got is me here. I had to make sure she was ready to go and good to go. That’s how my mom raised me,” Mendoza explained.
For himself, Mendoza only managed to grab photos of his two kids and some clothes. Mendoza works as a tree trimmer, but he lost all of his tools.
“Jesus has always been a person that thinks about everybody else first, before he thinks about himself,” said Robert Andersen, a co-worker who set up a Go Fund Me account to help Mendoza get back on his feet.
“I don’t even know the people helping me out, but I’m really grateful for them,” Mendoza said.