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'We managed to save my house': Men spend night in deadly Calif. wildfires

May 16, 2014 at 8:14 AM ET

As deadly wildfires raged across Escondido, Calif., a pair of men stayed up all night to help save their property using little more than garden hoses. 

"It's been quite long, but it's been a good night,'' T.D. Walton told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Friday. "We've been able to help each other and help the neighbors." 

They were helped along, they said, with a heavy lift from firefighters.

"We managed to save my house and my garage here just with a garden hose, but we had a lot of Escondido fire and Cal fire trucks,'' Jim Buchanan said. "When it got real hot and heavy they pulled up, and they are the ones that helped save everything."

Buchanan and Walton live in an area that is under an evacuation order but decided to stick it out as fires raced across northern San Diego County. More than 10,000 acres have burned, damaging dozens of homes and other structures and resulting in hundreds of evacuations. The Cocos fire in the San Marcos area, near where Buchanan and Walton live, has burned more than 1,200 acres. Twenty-two military aircraft have now joined the fight to contain the larger fires. 

Buchanan and Walton endured some anxious moments as they stayed up Thursday night into Friday morning. The fire altered its path and came straight for their property. 

"We thought everything was pretty much done,'' Buchanan said. "There was a ridge we could see the guys last night when we were up. We could see them putting it out, and we thought with the helicopter drop, things like that, they've got it beat, but there were three plumes of black smoke, and the one on the northernmost point just came across the valley with a vengeance. 

"It was just black all the way, and it hit a brush pile in the middle of a field out back of me, skipped over my neighbor's house, got the two next door, and after that I thought, this was going to be it. And then the fire trucks showed up, and they did a great job." 

Guthrie asked if the men were endangering their own safety or first responders' by defying the evacuation order. 

"So far everything that's going to burn has burned,'' Buchanan said. "It's safer now than it was two days ago. We've got three exits to get out of here, too." 

"We're good,'' Walton said. "We have our own food supply back here. We have our own little vegan community here and we're good right here." 

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