A California couple say God spared their home Oct. 25 when wildfires burned much of their San Bernardino neighborhood.
For 11 days last fall, several fires swept through San Diego and Los Angeles, destroying 3,600 homes, burning 740,000 acres of land and killing 22 people.
All of the houses within a block of Tony and Diane Forfa's home burned to the ground, but the couple's house was hardly singed.
Fire safety experts say wind shifts and fire-resistant building materials could contribute to such an anomaly, but the Forfas, who attend The Rock, a charismatic church in San Bernardino, believe God worked a miracle.
The fire was so hot it melted the shutters. Their children's large, wooden play set burned to a crisp, and their tricycles were metal skeletons.
But nothing on the Forfas' home suffered significant damage. Their roof, made of wood, has no burn marks. Their boat, sitting in the front driveway, was perfectly intact, though the grass beneath it burned.
"I know it was God," Tony Forfa said. "It was like gold, coming up looking at the house. It was really bright, like it was glowing."
Tony Forfa said his neighborhood looked like a disaster area when he returned. Ash filled the air, and cars had burned until they were almost unrecognizable. The Forfas can't explain why their home didn't burn.
"For the first three or four days I was totally struggling with why," Diane Forfa said. "There are Christians across the street who lost their home."
But when one of the Forfas' pastors mentioned that the couple had made a covenant with God and that the Lord had honored it, "that made sense to me," Diane Forfa said. "I was able to move forward and help out."
Churches in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas have been helping fire victims too. The relief agency Convoy of Hope shipped two 35,000-pound truckloads of water and supplies, which local churches helped distribute. All of the fires had been contained by Nov. 5. The damage is believed to exceed $2 billion.
Adrienne S. Gaines