Saturday on Wrightwood Road in Bonsall was a time for sifting — sifting through memories, through tears, through ashes.
When the Lilac fire blew through here Thursday afternoon, it burned down at least seven houses on this hilly street, and it would have been worse if firefighters and a half-dozen neighbors hadn’t been there to put out flames that in some places licked to within a few feet of the outside walls.
So along with the lingering smell of wood smoke, there was a swirl of emotion up and down the road Saturday morning. People who lost their houses were grateful to be alive. Those whose houses still stood felt relieved, but also a little guilty, and they grieved for what their neighbors were going through.
It’s a street where everybody seems to know everybody else, if not by name then at least by sight. They shared hugs as some of them returned to their properties for the first time since the fire broke out.
Veterinarian Geoffrey Smith came back to the rubble of what had been a two-story, four-bedroom, 2,250-square-foot house. He’s lived there since 1980 with his wife, and more recently also with his 93-year-old mother. They raised four kids there.
“It had views to die for,” he said. “It was also made out of wood, which is why it burned down.”