Over 500,000 people have evacuated as wildfires rage throughout portions of Southern California. Some have lost memorabilia while one trading card maker shuts down.
It’s a scenario anyone with an extensive sports collection has thought about at one time or another. Fire. What to save? Is it insured?
Some San Diego and Los Angeles area residents were faced with that reality as fires continued to spread, destroying homes and forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate to places like Qualcomm Stadium, home of the San Diego Chargers.
General Manager A.J. Smith’s home was in danger. He told SI.com that it wasn’t possible to fit all of the momentos from his career into his car.
"We just happen to have a lot of memorabilia in a big room — scrapbooks, trophies, honors, helmets, jerseys — and when I went in there it was tough. Those are hard decisions to make because you can’t take everything from A-Z."
The Poway, California home of former Major League outfielder David Justice was destroyed. Phil Nevin was in a state of shock yesterday afternoon as he surveyed the same neighborhood.
“It looks like Mars,” the former Padres first baseman told the San Diego Union-Tribune a few hours later after evacuating his home. “The house across the street was engulfed in flames. It burned down in like an hour.”
The Padres sent a group of front office staff to the stadium to assist the Salvation Army efforts there. Players Kevin Kouzmanoff and Adrian Gonzalez joined the group. The main volunteer effort will include serving food and beverages to evacuees, sign autographs and talk with some of the thousands of people riding the fire out.
San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman, new Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn and Chargers’ stars LaDanian Tomlinson and Phillip Rivers were among those forced to flee.
The Upper Deck Company’s Carlsbad, California facility was shut down for a second straight day because a large number of employees living within the fire zone weren’t able to get to work.
Collectors on message boards lamented the possibility of packing up some of their collection and moving to safety.
One collector was on vacation in Colorado when the fires roared through his neighborhood. Along with everyday possessions, Jay Jeffcoat, a past president of the San Diego International Sports Council, lost an extensive library of sports memorabilia: a Gwynn-autographed Padres jersey from 1984, a baseball glove signed by Ken Caminiti, a jersey signed by the entire Padres team when a neighborhood ballpark bearing Jeffcoat’s name was opened in El Centro.