Valley teens evacuate camp due to Riverside wildfire

FRESNO, Calif.

They were supposed to spend a week at the Center for Spiritual Living Youth Camp, but instead, the teens had to evacuate because of the massive wildfire in Riverside County.

The fire was reportedly ten miles away when advisors decided it was time to leave. "It's just crazy because I've never been through something like that," said Omar Ghanam a camp member.

Omar Ghanam was part of a small group from Fresno that joined about 350 other teens from all over the country at the youth camp. All were put in buses and headed for safety as the fire closed in.

"At first they were disappointed. Why do we have to leave? Once we were driving down the road they saw the fire line right there on the side of the road and the smoldering, that was a wakeup call for them and they were grateful," Tanya Ghanam a camp advisor said.

"Just going down the mountain and seeing the actual fire and fire fighters and all the cars, seeing all people putting their lives at risk to protect us is just unbelievable," Omar Ghanam said.

The teens left some of their belongings behind and spent the night at a Red Cross shelter. They slept on floors and prayed for the best.

"I was worrying if my stuff was going to burn. What was going to happen," Omar Ghanam said.

Sunday morning, the teens shared their story and experiences with some church members. The wildfire has burned through nearly 30,000 acres. It has destroyed nearly two dozen structures including seven homes.

"We actually wound up getting our luggage, back but those families, they won't get their houses back," said Aisha Ghanam.

Though it wasn't an experience the teens want to live through again, it was one that gave them a different perspective.

"It empowered them to know there's really nothing they can't handle at this point," Tanya Ghanam said.

The teens said it strengthened their faith and their characters by giving them an unexpected life lesson.

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