Ex-pat caught up in fire horror

WHEN Nigel Canham moved from Suffolk to California, he knew life should be warmer - but he hadn't bargained on quite how hot it would get!

WHEN Nigel Canham moved from Suffolk to California, he knew life should be warmer - but he hadn't bargained on quite how hot it would get!

The former Copleston and Broke Hall student found himself caught up in the forest fires which swept through the area last month - his house narrowly avoided being burned out.

His wife and two daughters were forced to move out and stay at a friend's home at the height of the blaze . . . while Mr Canham was visiting his parents in east Ipswich at the end of a business trip to Europe!

He said: “I was en-route back from the UK. I was on the phone to my wife when I was in the UK, we thought it best for my wife and kids to move out sooner rather than later.

“Only a few months earlier we experience our first earthquake, 5.3 on the Richter scale. This doesn't happen in Suffolk!”

He is now the director of a dental company in Orange County, southern California, which is where the Santa Ana wind can strike.

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Speaking from California, Mr Canham said that ironically the problems with the fires were quickly followed up by problems with rainfall.

“Many of the fires are as a result of the hot winds, known as Santa Ana's that are common at this time of year. The heat can be intense, it was in the high 90's F when the fires were happening.

“The winds then blow embers that then get carried far and can cause isolated fires and damage.

“It is raining right now. The family that I helped with other neighbours to build the sandbag walls were asked by the Police to voluntarily move out.

“It won't be a monsoon, just a few inches, but that could be enough to cause the mud slides. With ash on the surface and nothing to root the soil.”

A total of 100 homes in Yorba Linda, the city that Mr Canham now lives in, were destroyed by the fire - and in some places the blazes came very close to causing more damage.

In one instance a pick-up truck parked outside a house was destroyed while the building itself was untouched by the flames - and Mr Canham's area was surrounded by fires at one stage.

The homes appeared to have been saved because they were in a dip that the flames went around.

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