Erskine Fire evacuee shares her story after losing her home

Posted at 9:00 PM, Jun 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-25 00:00:11-04

Jan Ryan had evacuated Thursday and spent the night here at the Red Cross evacuation center.

She agreed to sit down and talk about evacuating her home, then a neighbor arrived and gave Ryan the answer she wanted to know but didn't want to hear.

"My house is gone? My house is gone? My house is gone," said Jan Ryan, South Lake resident.

"I'm so sorry," someone responded.

Ryan's house was one of seven homes that was lost as the fire reached a cul-de-sac in South Lake. Ryan's  friend had lost her home too.

"Her husband came over at 4 o'clock and said, 'Jan you've got 20 minutes to get out of here.' Then she came over 10 minutes later and said, 'he overreacts, don't worry. Relax. It's not coming this way,'" said Ryan.

She forgot her cell phone in her home, and held on to hope that her home was okay because her phone was still ringing if she called it.

"I'm leaving myself a message on it. Maybe the cell phone survives. Well oh dear. What to do? No place to go home. But I will have to go and see it and I don't know what to do," she said.

What hurts Ryan the most is what she won't be able to see again.

"My pictures. I had 1,700 photographs in the albums dating from the 1800s of my family to 2014."

As Ryan begins to come to terms with the shock, replaying the events from 24 hours ago is fresh in her mind.

"I really didn't take it seriously. I thought they would get it out. I really did. I prayed for it. Most of the times my prayers are answered but maybe on the other hand there's a, when one door close, another one opens," she said.

Whatever is behind that door, Ryan is ready to face it.

"Well, give it all you got. You've got three choices. Give in, give up or give it all you got," she said, "I know you'll give it all you got. I have to huh?"

Because Ryan had forgotten her phone, she was unable to contact family because she didn't know their numbers, but 23ABC was able to look up Bryan's brother's number and she has been able to make contact with him as well as her daughter, who also lost her home in the fire.