Residents affected by the Saddleridge fire, which broke out Thursday night, included Hiroshi and Yoshiko Yamaguchi, who were forced to evacuate from their Porter Ranch home around 3 a.m. on Friday.
Their daughter, who lives in North Hollywood, picked them up. They didn’t have enough time to pack their belongings; Mrs. Yamaguchi only took her medication with her.
Mrs. Yamaguchi told The Rafu Shimpo that when they evacuated, they saw the fire.
“I’m not sure whether our home is safe or not, because when we left, the fire was getting closer to our place,” she said.
For now, the Yamaguchis are monitoring TV coverage of the fire, which began in Sylmar off the 210 Freeway and was driven by strong winds across more than 4,700 acres in the northern San Fernando Valley, including Granada Hills. Roughly 100,000 people were forced to evacuate, multiple freeways and schools were closed, and at least one person died, apparently from a heart attack.
As of Friday evening, the fire was only 13 percent contained, according to City News Service.
Among other community affiliations, Hiroshi Yamaguchi has served as president San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, Fax Mainichi Inc., Southern California Kagoshima Kenjinkai, Japanese Prefectural Association of Southern California, Asian and Pacific Islander Council of San Fernando Valley, Japanese Community Pioneer Center, and San Fernando Valley Meiji Senior Citizens Club; vice president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California and Asahi Homecast; and chair of Ogaswararyu Senchado Southern California Branch.
Yoshiko Yamaguchi has served as an adjunct professor of Japanese language at Pierce College, a Japanese instructor for Los Angeles-based Kyodo System, an instructor for LAUSD Adult Extension, and an ESL and U.S. citizenship instructor at Japanese Community Pioneer Center; program coordinator at SFVJACC; a court-appointed social worker; a teacher and dancer with the Kikuta Kai Genchi Minyo; and vice president and board member of Pioneer Center and the Japanese Women’s Society of Southern California.
Both have been honored as Nisei Week Pioneers.