La Tuna fire evacuees grateful: ‘Everything else can be replaced’

As he waits for help from firefighting helicopters, a homeowner does his best to keep the flames away from his house in Sun Valley on Saturday, September 2, 2017. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Orange County Register/SCNG)
La Tuna fire evacuees grateful: ‘Everything else can be replaced’

BURBANK >> Peter Glassberg was watching television images of firefighters battling the La Tuna fire on Saturday at the American Red Cross shelter at McCambridge Park when something caught his eye.

It was an image, he said, of the property he had been living on for the past year on La Tuna Canyon Road in Sun Valley. He started recording with his phone.

“On the third pass that I was recording, I finally realized I was filming shots of my cabin trailer fully engulfed in flames, so I knew it was gone,” Glassberg, 64, said Sunday as his voice cracked with emotion.

After evacuations were lifted at 6 p.m., Glassberg said he expects to return to a pile of ash but hopes he can still salvage something.

Earlier in the day, he said he was worried about how he’ll find a comfortable home for himself and his four rescue cats, he said. It was “terribly difficult” to find the small place he had been living in.

“There are not enough pet-friendly places in this city,” he said.

The semiretired songwriter/singer said he was able to bring with him the “irreplaceable stuff” before he evacuated, including photos, recordings and writings collected over more than four decades.

“Everything else can be replaced,” he said.

But his “biggest concern” was finding homes for four friendly kittens he had been taking care of after finding them a few months ago at a metal recycling plant. His animals were being housed at the Burbank Animal Shelter for the time being, he said.

Glassberg used to play in the band of Frank Stallone, brother of actor Sylvester Stallone, called Valentine and appeared with members of the band as street singers in the original 1976 “Rocky” movie, he said. In the first few minutes of the film, they appear singing the song “Take You Back” a capella on a Philly street corner.

The song was penned by Frank Stallone.

“Maybe some of the fans who really enjoyed that song and that a capella performance … would help me place and find homes for these four kittens that I rescued about 21/2 months ago and been taking care of and getting ready for adoption,” he said. “Now this fire occurred and I really need some help to find them homes.”

Mimi Teller of the American Red Cross told reporters Sunday at the McCambridge Park shelter that they had housed nearly 50 people in their three shelters as of Sunday afternoon since the fire broke out on Friday. Twelve of them had stayed at McCambridge Park in Burbank on Saturday night, she said.

“A lot of people do have friends and family that they can join, so people who are here evidently really didn’t have any other options, … but we provided them with shelter, food, three meals a day,” Teller said. “We have health care services and information.”

As of 6 p.m. Sunday, all mandatory and voluntary evacuations in all jurisdictions had been formally lifted.

Kenny Hutchings, his girlfriend and their pug Bonzi, who also live in La Tuna Canyon, had just arrived at the McCambridge Park shelter Sunday afternoon.

Hutchings, who works as a support manager at a Walmart in Saugus, said they stayed in a hotel room on Friday night and then in their car, which has inconsistent air conditioning, and at a park on Saturday. They were told about the shelter in Burbank on Sunday and were relieved to have a cooler place to stay.

Hutchings said he fears they will have no home to go back to once the evacuations are lifted. They also lived in a trailer.

But the Walmart store gave him new clothes and has offered to help him find a place to stay if needed. And people at the American Red Cross shelter were making sure they were well-fed and hydrated.

“I’m in good spirits because all the people around me are incredible,” Hutchings said. “The community is really coming together.”