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Re: Is Fr. Alexander Lebedev OK in California, wildfires?

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  • Fr. Alexey Chumakov
    Glory be to God, that you are safe, Fr. Alexander. I saw the flames from the safety of Tarzana, and prayed (probably the same) supplicatory canon to Most HOly
    Message 1 of 11 , Oct 5, 2005
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      Glory be to God, that you are safe, Fr. Alexander. I saw the flames
      from the safety of Tarzana, and prayed (probably the same)
      supplicatory canon to Most HOly Theotokos that you did. However, I did
      not realise it was THAT close, and I am sorry I was not able to reach
      you and offer to stay in our house.
      All the hillsides around were ablaze and it was indeed a frightening
      sight. Living in the place like this, every time we say those litanies
      about earthquake and fires - it seems so close to home and heartfealt.


      --- In orthodox-synod@yahoogroups.com, "Fr. Alexander Lebedeff"
      <lebedeff@w...> wrote:
      > Dimitra wrote:
      >
      > >Does anyone know if Fr. Alexander Lebedev is OK there in southern
      > >California--I see the wildfires are still raging nearby...
      > >
      > >Thanks,
      > > Dimitra
      >
      >
      > Dear Dimitra and all of the others who have enquired about our well
      > being and the situation of our home with regard to the wildfires.
      >
      > Glory be to God, we are well, and our house has been spared.
      >
      > We live in the foothills above the San Fernando Valley, in a small
      > community called Bell Canyon, which was in the midst of the path of
      > the brush fire that roared across the mountain canyons last week.
      >
      > On Wednesday last, in the early afternoon, we heard on the news that
      > a serious brush fire has started in Chatsworth and was moving
      > Southwest--in our home's direction. We decided to move Matushka's
      > mother, who is 91, out of any danger, driving her to her son's house.
      > Meanwhile, we remained calm, expecting that the fires would pass our
      > community by, as they had on two occasions in the past. We served a
      > supplicatory canon to the Mother of God, asking for Her protection
      > and proceeded to prepare dinner.
      >
      > At about 8 p.m., a Ventura County Sheriff's vehicle pulled up, and
      > informed us that the fire was approaching and he suggested that we
      > make preparations in case we would have to evacuate. He also was
      > performing a survey, taking down the names of all residents,
      > visitors, and workers found in Bell Canyon at that time.
      >
      > We began to load up the vehicles with our most treasured
      > belongings--icons, irreplaceable church books, family pictures,
      > diplomas, certificate of ordination, etc., as well as necessities,
      > such as medications and toiletries--not to mention the home computer
      > (just the box) and external disk drive. Matushka insisted on
      > evacuating with all her hats.
      >
      > By this time, we could see much more than just a red glow in the sky.
      > I took some pictures of the approaching firestorm, and noted a tree
      > outlined against the sky on the ridge closest to our house. I
      > said--"if that tree goes, we're out of here."
      >
      > Fifteen minutes later, the tree was spectacularly ablaze. By this
      > time, we could see the fires coming down the hills toward our house
      > from three sides. The fires roared up the hill toward a house across
      > the way from us, and we could see the balcony of the house begin to
      > burn. We were sure that house would be lost, but an aerial drop of
      > water extinguished the flames. (It should be noted that air
      > operations (water drops and chemical retardant drops) normally cease
      > at sundown for safety reasons, but they continued into the night for
      this fire.
      >
      > With only one road into and out of Bell Canyon, it was clear that it
      > was time to leave. As we decided this, confirmation came from
      > sheriff's vehicles announcing, using bullhorns, announcing mandatory
      > evacuation.
      >
      > It should be noted that this is horse country, and many of the homes
      > in the area have their own stable facilities. Horse trailers began
      > arriving and the staging area for loading them was directly below our
      > house. It was heart-rending to see these magnificent animals so
      > obviously frightened by the smoke and the flames visible from all sides.
      >
      > We loaded up our cars with our own animals (a very big dog and a very
      > small dog, both quite excited about this adventure) and left the
      > house in God's hands.
      >
      > That night, we slept in our cars, with the animals.
      >
      > In the morning, the fate of the homes in Bell Canyon was not clear.
      > All we could see was towering smoke above our area, and helicopters
      > and planes flying all over.
      >
      > That day, we were not allowed back into the canyon at all. After many
      > phone calls, we finally were able to find a hotel that would take us
      > with our animals, and stayed there the second night, watching the
      > news reports on television, which continuously talked about Bell
      > Canyon being the place where the fiercest battles with the blaze were
      > occurring, and where the most "hot spots" were. The most encouraging
      > news was that only one home was reported to have been destroyed.
      >
      > In the morning we were able to reach the Bell Canyon guard gate and
      > were informed that residents with identification were being allowed
      > back in. We drove in and were appalled at the sight of the hills
      > surrounding Bell Canyon completely blackened--and many of the
      > interior roads showed areas around the homes that were blackened, as
      well.
      >
      > Our house, thanks to the Protection of the Holy Mother of God, was
      > untouched, although from the windows we see how close the flames came
      > to many of the houses in our area.
      >
      > The firefighters had done an absolutely magnificent job.
      >
      > We thank all of you for your prayers.
      >
      > With love in Christ,
      >
      > Prot. Alexander Lebedeff
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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