‘The sky just turned into an inferno,’ says resident who lost house – Chico Enterprise-Record

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When Sassan Darian looked at the ravaged framework of his home — and the skeletal remains of a Mercedes-Benz in the garage — it reminded him of the ancient ruins in Persia.

“You stand there and everything is just demolished,” he said of the home he lived in with his father, 62, and daughter, 7. “And, then there were these random pieces of metal and frame that were still standing just like the ancient columns. Everything is smashed to smithereens and there’s just this random piece of metal, and it looked just like a war zone.”

The 5,000-square-foot home was among the 20 residences turned to rubble by the fast-racing Coastal fire on Wednesday, May 11, in the Coronado Pointe community overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Laguna Niguel.

Darian, 38, fled from the fire just in time.

His daughter, Artemiz Darian, was the first in the household to recognize the danger when she told him she smelled smoke. Darian thought the smell must have been coming from a fire still burning at Camp Pendleton. But within minutes, he looked out the window.

“I saw the fire in the canyon but didn’t think it would race up that quickly,” said the online marketer who also does marketing for his dad’s mortgage company. “But the unpredictability of the wind could take it anywhere. It just went from one side to the other, and the sky just turned into an inferno.”

Related: ‘We’re so sad for our neighborhood,’ resident on Coastal fire-ravaged street says

Darian grabbed his keys and collected his daughter and father, who was outside hosing down the landscape. The fourth resident of the home, his dad’s wife, was out of town.

“I told him, ‘I don’t think that’s going to help,’ ” Darian recalled on Thursday, May 12, smiling.

The threesome jumped into their car as sheriff’s helicopters called out for mandatory evacuations.

“My daughter was yelling, ‘We’re on fire!’ ” Darian said. “I felt myself, and there were embers on us. It was just an intense heat.”

They made it out — but the next day, Darian found himself wishing they had gotten out five minutes earlier.

Firefighters battle the Coastal Fire near the intersection of Vista Montemar and Coronado Pointe in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.  (Photo: Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Later that night, he watched on TV as cameras showed his home blazing in a ball of fire. He attempted to go back, trying to enter through a nearby neighborhood but was blocked by police.

“I wanted to see if the house was completely damaged and if anything survived,” he said. “This morning, I thought I’d go back and see.”

So he did, bringing along his Persian cat, Cyrus Meow the Great, who happened to be with his mom in Irvine when the fire broke out.

As he got closer, he was shocked.

“It was like, I was in there yesterday living, and now it’s just a shell of a house and everything is gone,” he said. “That canyon, no one told us it was that much of a hazard. …

“At the end of the day, no one was injured, and there was no death,” he said. “When I think about what’s happening in Ukraine, it may look like a war zone here, but at the end of the day, we’ll get the insurance, and we can replace things.”

He sat down on the porch, on soot, with Cyrus Meow the Great and thought how everything had changed in a day for the 28-year family house.

Staff photographer Paul Bersebach contributed to this report.

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