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Tent city shelter ready to assist the displaced

Union Tribune (2007-11-06) Janine Zuniga

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More Info: Blackwater West, Harris Ranch Fire

Fire destroyed 103 Dulzura buildings

By Janine Zúñiga

November 6, 2007

It took a few days to get it up and running, but a tent city complete with cots, showers and laundry machines is now open to Dulzura area residents displaced by the Harris fire.

County inspectors gave their approval for the shelter – set up on a dusty half-acre lot about 35 miles east of downtown San Diego – over the weekend. They had given a small to-do list, which was completed yesterday.

Now that the temporary town is up, who will stay there?

Most who lost homes to the flames that swept through the backcountry community last month seem to have found a place to stay.

“If push comes to shove, who knows?” said Rick Simmons, 60, who is staying with friends since losing his rented Dulzura home. “But as long as I don't have to, there's probably other people who need it more than me.”

Shelter operators say some locals have expressed an interest in staying there, but as of Monday evening, all of the approximately 50 cots set up remained empty.

The county listed 103 Dulzura structures, mostly homes, lost to the fire. Residents are expected to be without electricity until Sunday. Many without power have no water because they can't pump their wells.

Adrian and Raquel Lucio and their four children lost their home at the Barrett Lake Mobile Home Park when the Harris fire erupted Oct. 21. For now, the Lucios are using vouchers provided by Campesinos Unidos, a nonprofit serving the rural poor, to stay at a Mission Valley hotel.

“We might end up staying there,” Adrian Lucio said yesterday of the tent city. “We've got a voucher for another five days. In the course of the week, we're going to check the camp to see if they have something left for us.”

Blackwater Worldwide, the controversial private-military company, donated the tent city and has made a 90-day commitment for its operation. A private group, Churches of Christ based in West Melbourne, Fla., will run the site.

Three tan tents – one for single women, one for single men and the third for families – were set up Friday. Over the weekend, air conditioning, heating and lighting were hooked up. A fourth tent will house TVs and a DVD player.

The tents can hold up to 21 cots each. Children's toys are on the cots in the family tent. Trailers house separate shower facilities for men and women. Private security will be provided.

Early yesterday, a local couple with five children did a few loads of wash in a tent city laundry trailer.

Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team director Mark Cremeans and his wife, Laura, were setting up registration tables yesterday and planning daily meals, which will be provided by the American Red Cross until the church's kitchen truck arrives within the week. The church is paying for the meals.

“We don't know how many will come but we'll be here for them,” said Laura Cremeans, who plans to announce the shelter's opening at a community meeting at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Barrett Junction Cafe, on Highway 94 at Barrett Lake Road.

To stay at the tent city, call Mark and Laura Cremeans at (858) 688-1408. An ID or a piece of mail must be presented and will be compared to a list of lost homes. The shelter is available to Dulzura area residents only.

Janine Zuniga: (619) 498-6636;

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Title Tent city shelter ready to assist the displaced
Publisher Union Tribune
Author Janine Zuniga
Pub Date 2007-11-06
Media Link
Keywords Blackwater West, Harris Ranch Fire
Media Type Linked Article
Author Name Sortable
Topic revision: r1 - 2007-11-07, CathyMiller
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