Text message saves group of friends from raging California wildfires

Group says timing and luck saved their lives
Posted at 11:21 PM, Oct 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-17 23:21:24-04

It was supposed to be a perfect vacation with friends in California’s wine country, but their fun quickly turned into an evacuation to save their lives.

A total of six friends just checked into their rental home in the Silverado Country Club neighborhood.

“It was the perfect California weather,” Michael Scire said.  

Scire said there were no warnings of the raging inferno that was to come. We spoke to Scire and two other friends Michael Barfield and Varinia Van Ness in Sarasota. They all agreed it was a team effort to escape alive. As everyone went to bed another one of their friends got a text message telling them to evacuate immediately. It was a message that saved their lives.

“The fire had come over the ridge and looked like somebody poured gas on it it was moving at a pace I’ve never seen fire move before,” Michael Barfield said.  

Barfield and others ran through the home waking people up. Barfield said he suffered a concussion in Montana a week earlier. He was taking medicine for that so they decided Barfield would be the designated driver as opposed to calling a cab for rides into and out of town. Barfield said if he hadn’t hit his head and rented that car they would've have no vehicle to escape.  

“Who would’ve thought me banging my head would’ve saved my life,” Barfield said. 

After waking everyone up Barfield said they jumped in the car and took off.

“I just don't remember a lot of details of the drive,” Barfield said. “I was just trying to get out.”

After they made it to safety and started watching the news the enormity of what they just escaped began to set in.

“Knowing that some people didn’t survive it, I know that’s one thing that was weighing on my mind. Because, when we heard some of the fatalities that happened it’s like gosh what could we have done to help those people,” Scire said.  

The friends just returned home to Florida over the weekend. Scire said ever since he’s been back he’s having nightmares.

“There is just fire everywhere and being in a maze like I can’t get out,” Scire said. “It’s you know, it’s a road but a maze where I can’t get out or suffocating feeling where I can’t breathe.”

Each year, the friends take trips together. After surviving this wildfire they think maybe they have a good team and will stick together in the future.

“I don’t want to travel alone now,” Van Ness said. “We were good friends before and now we have a closer bond."