New Brunswick

Thousands of miles away, this Californian learned forest fires were threatening her home

California resident Amanda Santana, who is Fredericton to perform in Norm Foster's new play, received an evacuation alert Friday morning triggered by the flames advancing on her home in Agoura Hills, Calif. She doesn't know if her home survived.

Amanda Santana awoke in Fredericton Friday to an evacuation alert, but doesn't know if her home survived

Santana, who is in Fredericton working for Theatre New Brunswick, received an emergency evacuation alert Friday morning triggered by fast-moving forest fires threatening her California home. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

A California woman working at Theatre New Brunswick got an unwelcome wake-up call early Friday morning.

Amanda Santana received an emergency evacuation order around 4:30 a.m. Two raging forest fires in Ventura County were advancing on the bordering community of Agoura Hill, where she lives with her husband and two sons.

It's that feeling of not being able to have any control of what's happening, or your belongings," said Santana later in the day. "I know they're just things, but it's your home."

Santana and her husband were thousands of miles away and no one else was in their home.

"In the grand scheme of things, we're all safe," she said, holding back tears.

Santana is in Fredericton to play a part in Norm Foster's Come Down from Up River.

Santana's husband — who is currently working in Vancouver before heading to another job in Mexico — called the neighbours to see if they could grab some of their things as they left.

The forest fire began on Thursday and has already burned through the town of Paradise, killing five people.

Currently fire officials in California are battling three major fires, which have forced more than 150,000 people from their homes:

  • Camp Fire, in Butte County.
  • Hill Fire, in Ventura County
  • Woolsey Fire, in Ventura County
Onlookers are silhouetted against the reflection of a wildfire burning in the Cleveland National Forest in Lake Elsinore, Calif., late Wednesday. Evacuations have been ordered for several small mountain communities near where a forest fire continues to grow in Southern California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

Santana said it's devastating to be so far away and not know what she might return to when she flies home on Nov. 14, but she's focused on her work in the theatre. 

"I got a show to do, baby," she said. "So I have to just feel the feels and then just … kind of compartmentalize it, that's it. And the show literally must go on, and it will, and it will be amazing and if anything maybe it will give me two and a half hours of not having to worry." 

Santana grew up in Halifax, where she survived a house fire at the age of 18. She said everyone escaped the fire unharmed and it taught her not to attach too much importance to material things. 

"Yes, I have things and yes they hold value to me, but as long as you have your family..." she said, her voice trailing off.

- With files from Catherine Harrop