10 Years Later: News 8's Larry Himmel's family on the day they l - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

10 Years Later: News 8's Larry Himmel's family on the day they lost their home

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – It has been ten years since devastating wildfires swept through San Diego, destroying thousands of structures and affecting so many lives.

The Witch Creek Fire was the second largest blaze of the 2007 California wildfire season.

That October, a member of our KFMB Family – the late Larry Himmel – lost his home in the Witch Creek Fire.

It was an early Monday morning when Larry received a call informing him the fire had jumped the freeway and was heading toward Rancho Bernardo – where he and his wife Joannie, son Miles and their dog Cosmo called home.

Larry rushed back to his house, gathered his family and evacuated their residence – telling them everything would be okay. Evacuations were not uncommon for the Himmel family.

After loading his family and pets into a car and getting them out of the neighborhood, he decided to stay and report live, on the air, on the devastating scene that was about to unfold in front of his driveway.

As flames engulfed his home and property, Larry did not leave – he had become the story. The consummate professional put on his game face and reported on the crumbling structure behind him - the one he used to call home.

“On any given day, I would say welcome to my home – this is what is left of my home,” Larry told KFMB viewers in a matter-of-fact style.

Larry’s beloved home of 25 years had burned to the ground.

For many, Larry became the face of San Diegans who courageously rebuilt their homes and lives from the ashes.

“I’ve gotten a sense of how proud I was of him and I never really got to tell him that,” said Larry’s son Miles.

Ten years later after the Witch Creek Fire, Joannie, Miles and Cosmo, still carry Larry's memory and spirit with them.

In 2014, Larry passed away after battling pancreatic cancer. He was surrounded by those he loved the most – in the home he fought to rebuild.

“When he was sick and he had cancer he said I just want to be home with my dog. When he passed away he was in his home with his dog and us as well. He was at peace here,” said Miles.

The flames took the material stuff, but never the stuff that matters.

“Stuff is just stuff - not going to take it with you. All that stuff is replaceable and it’s not that important,” said Joannie.

Miles said so many people knew his dad for doing the fire story, even though Larry was well known for doing the feel good ones.

He said he is deeply proud of the fire coverage his dad reported that day.

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