This was a tremendous weekend for those of us who work on the blog; I appreciate all the “Welcome back!” comments we’ve seen over the last three days. I have to admit, though, that as we start to get comfortable in our new digs, there’s still something missing, something that’s keeping it from feeling completely like home just yet. It was only a short time ago that we found out our friend and fellow blogger Carla Hoffman and her husband Lance were burnt pretty bad in the Tea Fire in Santa Barbara, Calif. I think I’ve said it just about every time I’ve posted (or emailed or talked) about her, but her energy and enthusiasm really brought a lot to the site and to our group of bloggers, and we miss her greatly.
On the Facebook site dedicated to the two of them, Lance’s sister Kristin shared some good news on Christmas day, saying both of them were awake and well enough to receive visitors. And this week she updated the site with the story of what happened to Carla and Lance the day of the fire, now that Lance is awake enough to share it:
Carla looked out the window while getting ready for their planned visit, a half-hour later, with one of their friends in SB. Lance got off work at 4:00 and had gone home to get her. She saw a huge orange glow over the hillside, so they turned on the TV to see who was being evacuated, while both tried unsuccessfully to catch their two cats for the carrier box. They then saw sparks of fire outside so, Lance sent Carla out ahead to run to their car while he tried one more time to catch the cats inside. Outside, the fire had already blown past them and Carla stumbled backwards with a scream. Upon hearing her scream Lance dashed outside and, seeing their laptop case on his way out (containing their vital documents), he slung that over his shoulder.
He ran to her, where she was on the ground curled up on her side. He picked her up and told her “we have to run…just go!” They got through the first burst of flames and the path cleared up for a bit. The trail between their house and usual parking spot was approximately 300 yards, so before getting to their car they had to run through and around a lot of burning pathways and intensely hot and powerful winds. At the heaviest burst of flames Carla fell down again and Lance picked her up saying “we have to” and carried her forward until she regained her own footing. He kept her in front at all times because he feared if she fell again he might unknowingly get through without her, which he could never do. When they finally got to the car, he reassured her saying “We’re alive, that’s what matters.”
Lance then turned the car around intending to drive straight to the hospital. The skin on his left arm was flapping down but thanks to adrenalin and the knowledge that he had no choice if they were to survive, he drove down E. Mountain Dr. and down Coyote Rd. When they got to Sycamore Canyon Rd., their usual route to town, it was closed and a lone firefighter was redirecting traffic. In the dark, the firefighter could not have known they were injured.
At that point it was Carla’s turn to save Lance. If he had followed the detours it would have taken too long to get help. Carla knows those roads well having accompanied her Dad, when she was a child, make deliveries around SB. She had the presence of mind to immediately pick the best route, advising him to reverse directions. Following her instruction, he drove West on Stanwood Dr., a road which he had previously never driven. When he saw Fire Station 7 he turned in for help, and with Providence, there was still one engine in the station. The firefighters immediately rendered first aid, wrapping them both, applying cold water, giving oxygen, calling an ambulance and notifying the hospital to be ready for their serious burn patients.
Upon arrival at the hospital, the physicians were able to treat and intubate Lance and Carla in time, successfully providing the oxygen needed before their bronchial tubes would have irreversibly swollen shut. Helicopters then airlifted them to the UCI Regional Burn Center where the rest of their lifesaving treatments began.
We thank God, and are intensely thankful for each and every person who did their part to save Lance and Carla. They would not have survived had any one of these people failed. We are also deeply thankful for all the kindness, generosity and love expressed to them, in so many ways, since their hospitalization. It has truly been more uplifting than words can describe.
Speaking of generosity, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention all the great people who donated to the auctions we’ve been running to raise funds for Carla and Lance, who lost pretty much everything they own. So far we’ve auctioned off items donated by Scott Dunbier, Colleen Doran, John DiBello and his pal Bully, Ryan Claytor, Tom Bondurant, Chris Mautner, Top Shelf Comix and probably some others who I’m forgetting. We’ll have additional items from Fantagraphics, IDW, Brian Mulcahy and more, including several limited edition books and more original art, in the weeks ahead. In fact, we should have a few more up this week, which I’ll post about once they go live. Many, many thanks to Tim O’Shea, who has been helping update the site we set up for the auctions, and to Stephanie Chan, who has been posting them all on eBay.
And I hope it isn’t too far in the future when I can stop giving updates on Carla, because she’ll be here to give them herself — and more importantly, tell us what she thinks of the end of Secret Invasion and the beginning of Dark Reign.