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This time of year, California can be a very dangerous place when it comes to wildfires.  Dry brush, Santa Ana winds, and low humidity combine forces with devastating consequences. I remember the Harmony Grove fire like it was yesterday.  It was Monday October 21, 1996 and the Chargers were at home playing on Monday Night Football.  I remember driving home from high school and getting to the top of Aviara Parkway. We could see the flames in the distance.  However, within a few short hours the fire raced through Escondido and into Carlsbad.  My mom, sister and I drove over to my friend’s house off of La Costa Ave to see how they were doing.  As we pulled up, the fire and police department were starting to give the evacuation orders as the burning embers began falling from the sky.  At the same time, Ken and his family were also getting the evacuation order.  They packed up the kids and dog and began driving west on Alga Rd driving over dancing flames as they headed towards my house.  They left not knowing the fate of their home with flames approaching the vehicles at a rapid pace.  By the end of the night, we had three families staying at our house due to the evacuation orders.  Tuesday morning arrived and Ken was able to return to his home which miraculously was not damaged.  However, other girls from our soccer team weren’t so lucky.  Two families lost their homes and all of their belongings.  Luckily both families had great homeowners insurance coverage and were able to rebuild their homes but the rebuilding takes time and you never get back the families photos and memories that were lost in the fire.  I remember going to Jenny’s house a couple years after the fire and her parents talking about how grateful they were for everyone that gave them photos for their new home, and Jenny was overjoyed when the soccer team presented her with a new team jacket.  It wasn’t about the beautiful home that was bigger and more modern it was about them getting back some of those memories they thought they had lost.  The Harmony Grove fire destroyed more than 120 homes and burned 8,600 acres.  On the 10th anniversary of the fire, a reunion was held at the Elfin Forest/Harmony Grove fire station.  Resident Patti Newton said two things kept her calm during and after the fire: good insurance and a strong marriage.  There are a few easy things homeowners can do to be prepared for a wildfire from reviewing the coverage on your home insurance policy to making sure you have enough defensible space around your home with the proper fire safe landscaping.  Cal Fire has a great website with many more tips at

Call Ken May Insurance at 888-724-2086 for all of your Carlsbad home insurance needs today!


By Kim Stankiewicz
Ken May Insurance Services
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