Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cleaning up in Dulzura

Posted @ 10:56 AM

The backcountry community of Dulzura was quiet yesterday and its only businesses -- a cafe, a craft shop and the Post Office along state Route 94 -- were still closed.

Across the street from the Dulzura Cafe, Martha and Juan Garcia were cleaning up the property where they live. The trailer they've called home for six years was destroyed by the Harris fire. The couple has been staying with family in El Cajon for more than a week but got their first look at the mangled trailer, blackened by flames and filled with dirt ash and leaves, yesterday.

The property owner, Cecilia Mendoza, rents land to the couple and another family. Their homes were still standing.

Sitting at a concrete picnic table while her husband and neighbors raked up leaves and debris, Martha Garcia said she only took her purse and personal papers when she fled Oct. 21. Gomez speaks only a little English so Maricruz Pulido, whose family also lives on the property, translated.

"The thing that broke her heart the most was the pictures of her grandsons" were lost, Pulido said. "She's overwhelmed. She's just trying to make her mind think that she'll have a house soon."

The Garcia and Pulido families say they love the quiet, peaceful life they've made in Dulzura. Despite the scare they've had in the last week, they don't plan to leave.

"Some people say, 'Why are you going to stay right there if it's dangerous for you?' " said Herminia Pulido, Maricruz Pulido's mother. "I just love it here."

- Liz Neely, staff writer

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