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Cocos Fire Destroys Dozens Of Homes In San Marcos Spiritual Retreat Center

Evening Edition

Thousands of San Marcos residents were able to return to their homes on Friday, though evacuation orders were still in place for some areas.

Firefighters also began combing through areas burned by the 2,520-acre Cocos fire, looking for hot spots and spraying down smoking embers. (Earlier, authorities had put the fire at more than 3,000 acres.)

A home destroyed by the Cocos fire in San Marcos, May 16, 2014

The fire tore through a more than century-old retreat center owned by the Harmony Grove Spiritualist Association. Members of the religious organization lived in more than 30 homes on the property.

Many of those homes — along with a church and several other community buildings — were destroyed.

Most of the homes and structures at the Harmony Grove Spiritualist retreat center were destroyed in the Cocos fire, May 16, 2014.

Yvonne Birdsell, who's on the board of directors of the Harmony Grove Spiritualist Association, said 24 homes and four church buildings were destroyed. Her home was among them. She evacuated on Wednesday and is now staying with her daughter in Escondido.

“It’s just material things I lost," she said. "I still have my dog and my family. That stuff can't be replaced. The important things we still have.”

She said the Harmony Grove members would meet soon to discuss how to rebuild.

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