Richard and Shirley Reel, both in their 80s, left their Porter Ranch home with little time to spare Thursday evening, barely getting out before their house was fully engulfed in flames.

The couple fled shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, before mandatory evacuation notices were announced in their neighborhood. They said they took less than 10 minutes to leave as flames from the Saddleridge Fire ignited a palm tree in their backyard and fierce winds sent embers into their back window.

“We started to go out the backyard and it was like it was raining fire,” said Richard Reel, 87.

They returned Saturday to see the what was left of their home, the only one on the block on Eddleston Drive that was fully destroyed by fire. The timbers still stood but the inside of the two-story home was completely charred in almost every room. Two burned sofas smoldered on the sidewalk.

Both were still wearing the clothes on Saturday that they left wearing on Thursday because the couple didn’t even have time to grab a change of clothes. Shirley Reel said she just carried her purse with some medicine.

“We had to make a decision,” Shirley Reel said. “My husband said we got to get out of here and that’s what we did.”

Once filled with antiques passed down for generations, their home of 23 years was left a blackened mess. Sunlight shined through holes in the burned-out roof and water dripped down onto a pile of ashes on the floor of the entryway.

“We did get out alive and that’s the important thing,” Richard Reel said.

The Reel’s were one of the unfortunate ones. Out of roughly 23,000 homes where residents were forced to evacuate, the Reel’s home was one of more than two dozen destroyed by a fire that seemed to strike indiscriminately.

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