No sympathy for arsonists

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I am appalled and saddened by the letter published in a local newspaper by Michael Thompson, a resident of Calabasas, about the way in which the case of the Corral Canyon arsonists is being handled. Mr. Thompson has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. I am one of the 53 victims of the devastating Corral Canyon fires in 2007. I suffered a great loss of property and my life has not been the same.

It was the night after Thanksgiving when these incredibly stupid men (not kids) started a fire in a cave near my house and left the canyon. The fire burned down 53 homes. Mr. Thompson says it was an accident. It most certainly was not an accident. Were they accidentally drinking and smoking weed? Did they accidentally steal the firewood, which started the fire? Did they accidentally take off and accidentally forget to call 911? I was out of town, as were many of my neighbors, and didn’t know about the fire until Saturday morning when I turned on the TV and saw my house burning down and not a single fire engine in sight.

Mr. Thompson again is ignorant of the facts when he talks about gates, fences, patrols, before and after the fire. He doesn’t know that we have been after the State to do something about this problem for many years and that it is well documented. He does not know that when he is at home in bed in red flag alerts, a small group of brave Corral men and women selflessly get up from their warm beds and patrol the canyon in the middle of the night in dangerous conditions.

He does not know that we have our own Web site, conduct monthly meetings to discuss these things and formed a working group with the Los Angeles Fire Department. We met with Chief Freeman last Thursday to discuss the gate issue. We are in the beginning stages of forming our own volunteer fire force, arson watch and Matt Haines, our local hero, now owns three fire engines parked right here in Corral.

Mr. Thompson is indeed looking from the outside in and has not a clue about what it is like to suddenly become homeless. Many of our residents are unable to build. Many have walked away from their land and are going to declare themselves bankrupt.

How dare he call this an accident? He should mind his own business.

Geraldine Gilliland