Neighbors help save homes from CZU fires in Santa Cruz mountains

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SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) — In the middle of so much destruction, some homes in the Santa Cruz mountains have been spared from the CZU Lightning Complex fires.

One homeowner said he still has a home to go back to because of the actions of some of his neighbors.

Video shows some of the destruction along Pine Ridge Road in Bonny Doon, where trees are blackened but still standing. While the homes they used to surround are leveled. But some homes, like the one belonging to George Janour and his family, were mostly untouched by fire. He credits the actions of a small band of locals. 

“They were very resourceful people they has equipment and one of the neighbors he he had a generator with a pump and he used our pool to try to save all the houses on my street,” Janour said. “Unfortunately all of them burnt down except for ours.”

Photo shows one man standing on Janour’s roof using that pool water to try and keep the fire from coming up the hillside.

With Cal Fire units spread thin trying to tackle multiple lightning sparked fires, the group of eight friends defied the evacuation order to try and save homes in their community. 

While Janour says his immediate neighbors homes were lost, a member of what they jokingly referred to as ‘rescue one’, estimates that they were able to save somewhere between 26 and 30 others.

“And I’ll tell you right now if the situation happened again, we would do it again and we would save more homes next time,” Cuyler Ruskin said. “And that is exactly the goal.”

“If it weren’t for them, my house would’ve been for sure gone,” Janour said. “I’m at a loss, Idon’t know what to say… very grateful.”

After learning that his home was saved, Janour says he went and brought $500 worth of beer and bananas to deliver to his weary heroes to help them refuel. When he dropped off his care package, he got his first glimpse of the devastation that he and his family were spared.

“There’s definitely survivors guilt that we’re going through and we’ve agreed as a family that we’re gonna work really hard help our neighbors rebuild and do whatever we can to help,” Janour said. “It’s tough, our neighborhood is definitely gonna be different.”

Janour estimates they will be out of their home for months, waiting for power and water to be restored — but he’s incredibly grateful not to have to completely rebuild.

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